Merriam Webster dictionary says that entitlement is the belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges.
No. This is not a political post. No, I’m not going to point my finger at government programs that foster an entitlement attitude.
No. This is not a parenting post. No, I’m not going to point my finger at kids and talk about how they have developed an entitlement attitude.
I’m going to look at the entitlement mentality of middle-class adult Americans.
I have an old fashioned belief about money that guides my finances – you can only buy what you can afford. I also take this a step further and believe that I might not have a Christian right to spend money on things just because I can afford it. Managing finances is a spiritual act, not a physical one. The statement about buying only what you can afford is old fashioned because most don’t buy according to that principle.
The ancient buy-what-you-can-afford principle has been replaced by a new fangled idea – buy what you deserve.
I was once on the phone with a woman who was trying to live within her means (at least that is what she said). I suggested the idea of cutting phone expenses. That was not possible because they needed the phones. I suggested cutting grocery expenses. That was not possible because it was important that she buy the more expensive items.
Can you see what principle of finances she followed? Buy what you deserve.
There are many young people who get married and immediately want to be in a home the size of their parents’ home. After all, they think, don’t we deserve to have the house of our dreams? We buy cars before we can afford them. We buy homes before we can afford them. We buy vacations before we can afford them.
People don’t buy what they can afford, but the buy only what they believe they deserve.
This is entitlement.
It’s hurting us. It’s hurting those God wants us to bless. It is hurting the Kingdom of God.
How to Break Free from the Entitlement Spell Gripping our Nation
1. Exercise the power of NO.
Breaking the entitlement spell means self-denial. It means self sacrifice. It means saying no to the things you cannot afford.
Living below your means is not an act of fate. Living below your means is not a privilege of the wealthy. Living below your means is only achievable to those who are willing to say no. No, I can’t afford that. No, I can’t buy that. No, I don’t have the money to spend.
Our finances are limited, and so we must exercise an appropriate use of the word NO.
2. Teach yourself before trying to teach your children.
I don’t like saying no to the things I want. However, I believe that our children learn more from watching what we do than they learn from hearing what we say. My wife and I often use phrases like, “It’s too expensive …” and “We can’t afford that ….” even when discussing things we want.
If our kids have seen us deny our own desires, then they learn that principle.
3. Budget and commit to living on less than you earn.
Why not just make a rule – we won’t spend more than we make. We will only buy what we can afford. Then make it work. The best way to spend only what you can afford is to make a budget and stick to it with absolute allegiance. Once you’ve made this commitment, simply adjust all your spending to that one foundational agreement.
4. Occasionally don’t buy something even if you can afford it.
I’m not even sure that I should spend everything that I can afford on myself. I think the Christian call and Christian standard is higher. Sometimes I need to forgo buying something – even if I can afford it.
Gal. 5:13 encourages us not to use our freedom for self-indulgence. Our goal is not merely to stop buying things we can’t afford, but also to stop buying thing we don’t need. Deny yourself something you can afford and something you want to buy. Give that money instead as a testimony to yourself that you can choose to pass over things you can afford. Self-denial is a great countermeasure to entitlement.
What do you do to try and break free from the entitlement spell gripping our nation?