An attitude of entitlement looks bad on anyone. It is no doubt a by-product of our affluence and it’s a significant problem for parents, employers and for governments. What’s on my heart recently though, is the effect of entitlement on us as pastors and leaders. God has given us an amazing privilege and responsibility to shepherd His people. Those that we care for tend to put on us on a pedestal, admiring our sensitivity, wisdom and spiritual insight. (their opinions about us can change rather quickly at times!) This kind of trust makes us particularly vulnerable to over rate our importance to the ministry and to the organizations which we serve. A sense of our own self-importance, fed by accolades of success, can create space in our hearts for three very dangerous words, “I deserve this.”
These three words are not always wrong, but they head in the direction of entitlement. They are the words that likely coaxed David to violate Bathsheba, murder her husband and betray God and his kingship. They are the same three words used by some pastors to justify looking at porn, by others to abuse their expense accounts for perks and privileges, and by still others, to engage in emotional attachments that betray marriage vows.
It saddens me to say that these are not isolated incidents. They are not even the “celebrity pastors” whose failures we read about all too frequently. I am speaking about pastors and leaders within our BCMB community. Entitlement is a risk for us all. We are in a unique and privileged role and we are also in the midst of a difficult Covid season. 2020 has been a year of uncertainty and instability and the pressure is taking its toll. Like Frodo and Sam making their way through the Dead Marshes, deceptive lights promise us comfort and tempt us off the solid path toward destruction.
Please don’t hear me saying that you shouldn’t take care of yourself. Take time for rest, and renewal not because you “deserve” it, but because you are humbly aware of your own weakness and need. Be transparent about how you replenish your soul and invite others to speak into your life; to call you out if and when they see entitlement in your attitudes or actions.
Be honest with yourself about the temptations you’ve been courting. “Play the movie” of your indulgent thinking to its bitter conclusion and repent of it completely. Recognize that success and longevity in ministry don’t protect us from entitlement thinking, they make us more vulnerable. When you start thinking about what you deserve set your mind on Jesus and His astonishing love for you. And remember this promise, “Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 3:13
BCMB Conference Minister