The Whole Entitlement Thing

The more we know about ourselves, the less we make it about ourselves.*

Queen of Bavaria's CrownProfessional ministry may no longer be the respected vocation it once was. Between catastrophic disappointment in our clergy and the general end of Christendom, we pastors and priests no longer wield the immediate respect we once enjoyed.

And yet entitlement is alive and well among me and my clergy colleagues. I’m trying to get my head around this.

We are called to Servant Leadership. We teach Jesus’ message that the last shall be first and the first shall be last. And yet I observe a healthy (or not-so-healthy) dose of entitlement in professional ministry.

Can someone wiser than I speak to this?

I occasionally observe new pastors who are bright and amazing, but they expect the salary, benefits and responsibilities of seasoned pastors. I occasionally observe experienced pastors who are wise and gifted, but they expect people to defer to them because of their tenure. Is there a loving way to say, “You are clearly called to this ministry, but it’s not about you”?

All of us make things about us from time to time. I need to pray often: “forgive me for making this about me” because I am insecure enough to want that – sometimes unconsciously. But what if we work with colleagues who seem to be unaware that they are making everything about them?

It’s not a good way to live. It’s definitely not a good way to be a pastor. Any wisdom out there about this?

*This quote comes from a wise colleague.

Image of the crown of the Queens of Bavaria.

7 responses to “The Whole Entitlement Thing

  1. Mike Landefeld

    I think what you’re observing are trends in our overall culture. The “entitlement” mentality (expecting mature salaries, benefits, etc.) is one which is attributed to the Millennials in the workforce. Ron Alsop has written a book on the subject titled: “The Trophy Kids Grow Up: How the Millennial Generation is Shaking up the Workplace”. In his book, Mr. Alsop cites various surveys conducted by organizations such as which found that 85% of hiring managers and executives feel Millennials have a greater sense of entitlement than older workers, particularly in the areas of higher pay, flexible work schedules, promotion within a year, and more personal or vacation time.

    Older workers, meanwhile, were raised in a culture where respect and deference should automatically be given to one’s elders (even as a GenX-Millennial hybrid, I remember being told to “always respect your elders”). When someone who has lived their entire life with that belief reaches the status of “elder” there is an automatic expectation for their words and ideas to have be considered with greater weight than younger colleagues’.

    I believe the root of the challenge with this issue, as with many issues facing the church, is to remember that the Church is society. In fact, the more successful we are at creating a true Church, the more it should become a microcosm of our global society, which includes all of the inherent biases, struggles, and miracles that brings.

    (*note* I don’t think I am wiser than you at all, but still wanted to write my thoughts on this, in case it hadn’t been considered)


  2. Pingback: » The Whole Entitlement Thing

  3. As churches decline/die, the professional clergy are going the way of the dodo bird in too many cases. Part of the problem is that church has become irrelevant to so many. While the “we want to bring back the 1950’s” crowd hangs on for dear life and refuses to allow anybody new to come in with new ideas, the “young people” I hear so much (oh pastor, wave your magic wand and bring the young families and children in) about walk away because the church doesn’t value “authentic relationships” and shared ownership.

    A unique perspective… When I was in the Air Force as a Chaplain, longevity increases were built into the system along with promotions based on “past performance and future potential”. And there was a Cost of Living increase each year.

    The church is not that way at all in far too many cases. When a church wants to hire someone with 20 years experience but only pay them what you would pay someone with zero experience, there is a disconnect.

    The church is bringing on the clergy crisis by this sort of treatment AND some clergy are bringing it on by being prima-dona’s who make it all about them. The balance is somewhere in the middle as we seek to follow Christ.

    There isn’t an easy answer. However, I do believe that this reformation of the church will lead to something different. The 1950’s church (read country club or social organization) is not coming back. The church of the future isn’t going to look like the church of our grandparents or even parents. But out of the ashes will arise a new church…I don’t know what it is going to look like, but I am eager to see how this turns out.


  4. This is very good and wise. It’s something I pray about. It’s possible to see this issue in “lay” leaders, as well. In fact I think I am dealing with that, right now, in one of my church musicians.


  5. Thanks Spike. I hesitate to generalize people by age. Most of the Millennials I know do not act entitled and most of the older generations I know do not act entitled. But people who do drive me crazy in any generation.


  6. Pingback: This Week’s Links « Timothy Siburg

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.