Feeling entitled (in the negative sense) is when someone thinks or feels he has more rights than he actually does.
Every person has rights – human rights endowed by God, rights conferred through citizenship, rights to be respected according to the status and place one has earned, rights within families etc. The sum total of these rights reaches a line to which we can rightly be said to have a claim on or be entitled to.
Going above the line – feeling I have a right to a new car, more money, new clothes, getting my way, a bigger house, God to appease my strongest felt need or the ability to vent my frustration without maturity or act on my impulses childishly – all of these are not things we are actually entitled to, but often feel or have a strong sense of entitlement toward.
The inflation or gap between real and perceived entitlement can largely be attributed to lack of maturity, being ‘spoiled’ – led to believe you deserved more than you actually did while growing up, the prevailing American consumer culture and more.
The gap, however it occurs in individual persons, tends to eat away at cheerfulness and gratitude – often while nurturing a victim complex or feelings of a cosmic “not fair” emotion.
Paul talked about learning the secret of being content whether he had plenty or nothing at all in Philippians chapter 4. He attributed the source of contentment to Christ by saying, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
Contentment doesn’t result from more and more stuff building up and possibly reaching the upper line of my perceived entitlement. It also doesn’t come from having the bare minimum of the lower line of actual entitlement.
Rather, true joy and contentment comes through spiritual strength and encouragement regardless of our lot in life, the amount of our possessions or even whether we’re receiving all we deserve.
That is why when it comes to true happiness prayer is more fruitful than labor, solitude more beneficial than competition and faith more reliable than claiming rights to which I feel entitled.
“’You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve,’ said Aslan. ‘And that is both honor enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth. Be content.’” C.S. Lewis