Several Young Adults Responded
to the following questions about self-entitlement in a Christian’s walk.
Snapshots of their responses are listed here. [Main Story]
Do young adults today feel entitled to “have it all”?
In general, no. However, there is one phenomenon common to young adults that may come across as a sense of entitlement, and that’s the insistence upon having fun. From video games to hanging out with friends to extreme sports, the pursuit of fun is a core value for most young adults I know. And when it comes to a relationship with Jesus, young adults can sometimes feel “entitled” that it be fun, too. That’s a mixed blessing, of course. Much of Christianity really is a hoot! But some of it is deadly serious, too, leading fun-seeking young adults to cry foul and look elsewhere for fulfillment and meaning. It’s the 1960s mantra taken to its Xer/Millennial conclusion: “If it feels good, it’s true; if it doesn’t, you’re in the wrong pew.”
Do young adults have a sense of entitlement to power or prestige or special favor with God? No. But we often do have a sense of entitlement to pleasure, and that will probably be the blessing—and challenge—of the rest of our lives.
Because my parents got divorced, I always felt like they’d brought me into the world, messed my life up, and owed me for it. I also think since we’ve grown up in a land of plenty where our parents have generally built their entire lives around their children, kids get the impression that they are the number one priority and deserve to be.
A recurring theme of so much advertising is “You deserve it.” We can only hear this so many times before we start believing it.
How would these feelings manifest themselves with those who profess to be Christians? Sometimes young people don’t expect to have to work into a position. Sometimes they don’t expect to have to do that little extra to get a promotion. They want all the perks and pay of a person who’s been working hard at a career for many years.
Ryan Bell, California
A sense of entitlement leads Christians of all ages to be too critical of the church and to feel as if they need church to fulfill their expectations. We’re so desperate to keep young people that I feel we cater to this by tacitly saying, “We’ll do anything! Change the worship style, lower the standards, look the other way when you sin; just please stay so we’re not a bunch of old fogies here.”
Jennifer Jill Schwirzer
Which generation do you think as the most profound sense of entitlement?Boomers, hands down. They generally make more money than we younger generations do, they’ve been in the church longer than we have, and their sheer numbers have made them a shoo-in for nearly every leadership role in the denomination. As the boomers age, however, there will be increasing numbers of church offices locally and nationally that will be vacated. But there are considerably fewer qualified young adults to fill them—and more ominously, there are considerably fewer young adults who even desire to fill those offices. If Christ doesn’t return first, the Adventist Church of the future will look considerably different than it does now. Shane Anderson
Gen Xers, I think, may now feel the most entitled to success because they may have had a lonely/difficult childhood, but believe the world now owes them something.
A. J. Church
No generation is immune to it. Currently, there is a growing culture for self-gratification and exaltation of the individual and “doing what’s right for you” (regardless of what might be right—or considerate—to others). The self-entitlement issue has been characteristic of many generations before, and is creeping into upcoming generations as well.
Baby boomers have the most profound sense of entitlement because they feel like they have paid their dues and have earned “their” seat in the pew. They have been around longer, so it’s easy for them to feel like certain positions in the church naturally belong to them, even if a Gen Xer or Millennial shows great promise of leadership.
Millennials probably have a more profound sense of entitlement, having grown up in a generation of peace, prosperity, and excesses. Religion is lost from the mainstream, replaced instead by feelings of affluence. It’s what they’ve been raised on; it’s no wonder it’s shaped their worldview.
If someone does feel “Entitled,” how could this be harmful? Could they “Get over it”?
Entitlement is a form of self-importance and complete anathema to the gospel, which teaches meekness and humility as integral to salvation. Paul wrote that despite his honored position in the ruling class he counted his pedigree “rubbish” that he may gain Christ, who disregarded His divinity, took the form of a servant, and humbled Himself to the point of death. Every Christian should follow this model of humility, shunning self and seeking the perfect purpose of the Father. This brings us the only thing that we are entitled to on this earth, joy and peace, which can come only through the loving will of God.
This reminds me of something a devout Jew said in response to why his people constantly wear their yarmulkes. He answered, “It’s to always remind me that there’s Someone above me.”