Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Dangerous Feeling of Entitlement

2 Thessalonians 3:6-10   (6) In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching[a] you received from us. (7) For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, (8) nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. (9) We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. (10) For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat."
I typically do not lead directly with a scripture, but this feels a little different.  I felt led to reference this scripture before I started to write.   The scripture above is from one of two letters from Paul to the Thessalonians and this passage is a warning against idleness.  I know and realize that the word "entitlement" is a touchy topic these days especially in the political realm, however, it is something that must be addressed.   I say this because the very idleness that Paul speaks of can carry over into a feeling being owed something, especially if you never have to bare a burden to get it.

We know there is a big debate in Washington between politicians on which government programs should be trimmed back, reformed, or cut completely. There is a feeling that people who benefit from these programs feel that they deserve them (or entitled to them).  You have programs like Welfare, Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid to name a few, but rather than focus on the "buzz words" of political infighting I want to focus on us as a people.  Let's leave the politics out of it and talk about on a main street level and from a personal point of view.

See, when I was growing up, I was raised that if I worked hard, I can earn what wanted.  It's practical and makes sense.  If you go to work, you get paid.  Simple, so I thought.  I know that I talked about this before, but I remember when I graduated from college and I felt that the world owed me a job.  After all, I was a Computer Engineer from NC State University.  I had conquered one of the toughest engineering schools in the country, but alas, there was that feel of entitlement.  I had thought that flashing my credentials would punch my ticket to any position that I wanted, because I had did all the work up front and I figured I could rest now.  To make a long story short, I ended up settling for my first job making nearly $10,000 less than what I felt I deserved!  Surprise, surprise!  I've been in my field for nearly 12 years and it has taken dedication, perseverance, and hard work to make it to levels I thought I would be a long time ago.

So, let's go over a couple of lessons learned:

  1. Nothing is free.  Everything has a cost.  Notice I didn't say a price because a price is just the monetary value that someone is willing to pay for something .  The cost is what it takes in time, energy, resources, dollars, sacrifice etc. to create something.  Even if you receive something for free, there was a cost involved to someone else to get it to you for free.
  2. Free things aren't appreciated.  If you think about it, whenever someone has given you something for free, you never really cared about it as much.   The reason for this is because you had no skin in the game.  You did not have to pay for anything.  There was not lost to you from paying the cost. For example, if I gave you a house for free, you would verbally appreciate it, but if something were to happen to it, you would not care as much.  You'd probably say something like, "well it didn't cost me nothing any way".  BUT, if you purpose your own home with your own hard work, sacrifice, and saving, you will take much care of your home.  The difference is you gave up something to get something.
At the end of the day, the last sentence of lesson #2 sums it all up.  If you never give up something to get something, you will never appreciate that something that you got.  If you always receive something for free, you will never feel the pain of having to go work for it and get it.  Even if you do some work, there is no guarantee that you will get what you think you deserve (ask the people dealing with Social Security).  You always have to be willing to go the extra mile and not be complacent or idle in your thinking, because the most dangerous assumption is to believe that you will always get "B" because you did "A".  It may be that way for a while, but things change with time and time continues to infinity.

Be blessed folks.

Antoine

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