One of the most unbecoming qualities is entitlement. I recently attended a millennial marketing conference and listened to companies present their data on millennial consumer behavior and trends. There were many qualities used to described us, but entitled was a main theme.
Our generation as a whole is described as having an attitude of entitlement, meaning we expect things to be given to and done for us.
While we absolutely should have a standard in the way we are treated and should be expectant of God’s blessings, a sincere attitude of gratitude can change our life in many ways.
I do think that getting what we want without working for it has resulted in becoming an entitled and thankless generation. But I believe there are other reasons too.
When we have been wronged in life, we can become hard and emotionless. We implore different tactics to get back at the world. Achievement and status are one of those means. When we finally get it, we don’t feel thankful because our motives were never in the right place.
There may be a certain person you secretly want to beat in order to finally feel like you are redeemed for all the injustice you were dealt growing up. Even once it’s achieved, the heart is already hardened and you won’t feel fully satisfied because you missed all the sweet moments that made up the entire journey. You were too busy fantasizing about beating the someone who you chose to represent all your pain.
Have you ever met someone who had reached a level of success and when you talked to them about it, they said something along the lines of, “I did it all on my own!” They have been inflated with pride because their focus hasn’t been on people or their purpose, it has been on competing and winning.
I’ve worked with girls that I had to talk to about their lack of appreciation, sincerity and warmth. They tell me, “I really am thankful, I just don’t know how to express it!”
Usually when you really feel thankful, you can’t help but to express it. There may be a wall up that you’ve subconsciously put up to protect yourself. The wall prevents you from feeling and expressing gratitude. Maybe it’s pride or maybe it’s a defense from all the years you were hurt.
Feeling thankful and expressing it are imperative to have the sparkle in your eyes. Thankfulness all starts in your heart and then flows out.
Here is how…
1. Take focus off competition:
It is totally fine to have goals and a competitive spirit. But when we feel the need to prove something to someone, they have a power over us and our goals are tainted because our true royal identity has been compromised. Release the need to win for the sake of beating your competitors and make your goals about what God wants to do through you.
2. Focus on people:
You were designed to make the world a better place through your story and your gifts, but mainly your heart. Notice the tiniest thing someone does for you to make your life better. Notice how your life would be different if they weren’t there. Contemplate the time, energy and resources it takes the people who do for you.
3. Ask yourself if you would do what they are doing?
Now put yourself in their shoes. Imagine yourself doing exactly what they do or have done for you. We can take family members for granted so easily because we think, “well it’s my mom, she should do my laundry.” But family is where our character is refined and revealed the most. Your family members are people too and deserve to be appreciated. Recognize that no one has to do anything for you and people can leave you at any moment.
4. Start doing for others:
We don’t realize how much someone is doing for us until we do and serve others in a similar capacity. For example, we may not know how much work goes into event planning if we have never planned something for someone else. In our head, we may think, “well they are a bridesmaid, that’s what they are supposed to do.” Just because someone is “supposed” to do something because they volunteered or agreed doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be extremely thankful. If you want to have a sincere heart when appreciating others, start doing a little bit of what they are doing for you for someone else. Or spend time with them as they are doing it so you can see everything that goes into making your life better.
You absolutely are an amazing person, but it is important to remember that no one owes you anything. The Bible tells us to serve one another, but it also says to give thanks in everything. It isn’t up to us to determine what anyone “should” do. Your expectation may by logically justified, but you can’t, nor do you want to force anyone to serve you. That is between them and God.
5. Let down your pride:
Pride is when we don’t want to let anyone know we need something. Pride is when we refuse to acknowledge someone for what they did for us. Pride is the need to be perceived like we have it all together. Pride is even selective memory and creating our own stories that satisfy our story that “I did it all on my own.” Maintaining that front is exhausting and always comes before our downfall. Pride results in people leaving us because they feel undervalued. We are made for connection and interdependence. (Galatians 6:2) It is a beautiful thing to let go and rejoice over the people who want to be there for you.
6. See the gifts:
It is absolutely astonishing how drastically our minds and moods can change when we shift our thoughts on our blessings in the midst of trial. When we truly focus on all of the things we are thankful for, we are agreeing with God, seeing God and inviting God to intervene on our behalf. We have the ability to be content no matter what our circumstances are. Rather than setting a certain expectation, see every good thing that comes in as a sweet gift and cherish even the smallest generosity.
When we begin to treat people like the gifts they are, relationships will strengthen and deepen. Our happiness level shoots through the roof, we realize every good thing and person in our life is a gift. When we change our expectation into appreciation, our world changes.
Tear the walls down over my heart that prevent me from feeling thankful. God, I want to see beautiful, kind, well-intentioned people as treasures and every good thing as a gift from heaven. (James 1:17) Help me to realize that I don’t have to do everything on my own and that I don’t have anything to prove. God you have already won and make me more than a conqueror through Jesus. I pray that I can release all the hurt from my past so I can begin to let people into my heart again. I pray for the wisdom to let good in and for the humility to feel gratitude.
I confess that I can not do this life alone and I need people, relationships and grace to raise me up when I am weak. Father, I pray that you will shower me with a wave of gratitude for what Jesus did on the cross for me because I most importantly want to feel thankful for you. Lord, you gently knock and wait for me to open the door to my heart, so I am inviting you to invade it. Make me soft and humble so I can realize my expectations and replace them my appreciation. In Jesus name, Amen.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 NIV
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:18-19 NIV
We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 NIV
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:15-17 NIV
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