Have you ever worked with someone who had an "Entitlement" mindset? Someone who feels everyone around "owes" them something? Dealing with people like that can be very frustrating!
During the summer between my freshman and sophomore years at college, I worked a rather challenging job. Somehow (they must have been desperate for dependable workers) I was hired to work at one of the most prestigious clothing stores in Pensacola - Sam's Style Shop.
Yes, this severely "fashion-challenged" student was hired to suggest what other women should wear! (Honestly, I can't decide whether to laugh or cringe as I tell you this. Most of you already know I don't even attempt to dress myself anymore. The girls put all my outfits together and Frank nods yea or nay.)
Because I was never late and because I never complained about whatever lowly task was assigned, I soon became a favorite with the manager. Her name was Lu and she was both a fashionista and a bright business woman.
Many times she would whisk me into the office before allowing me on to the sales floor. A belt added here, a jacket or scarf there. Once the improved ensemble was created, she would turn me around; nod approval; then shove her "salvaged clothing design" out to sell!
This store catered to wealthy clients. Those ready to spend some serious money for quality clothing. One lady came in while I was working and purchased an entire wardrobe for her daughter who had just been accepted to Harvard as a law student.
Naturally, all sales associates worked on commission. We were paid an hourly wage ($2.20 in those days) but the real money for us was in selling entire outfits to the customers.
If they looked at a skirt, we quickly produced the matching jacket and a separate blouse. If they came in searching for a more casual look, we suggested multiple colors, prints and even accessories. (Fortunately for me, these were usually grouped together making it almost fool proof.)
Our job was to set up each potential buyer in one of the plush dressing rooms then not let them leave that mirrored room until they had settled on an outfit....or two. Many days my little high heels covered several miles as I ran back and forth to get the different sizes, colors and styles the ladies wanted to try.
This job was not for the faint of heart.
Apparently, I was friendly enough to pull in a few customers. And like I said, the manager was kind to me. But there was one lady who had worked there for years. (I can't even remember her name; we'll call her Mary. )
Mary quickly established that I was NOT to approach any of her regulars. I understood and her boundary lines were fine with me. Only she spent most of her time sitting in the break area and I had no idea which ladies were her patrons.
There were countless times that I would work with a customer, running back and forth; finally bring them right to the point of a sale only to have Mary swoop in and say, "Thanks, Sheri! This lady has been coming in here for years. I'll take it from here."
I was young and didn't like correcting anyone older than me; especially not right in front of the buyer. How was I to combat Mary's smooth technique?
Finally, one evening while helping close up, I sheepishly addressed the problem with Lu. "Aw, Sheri! Mary feels entitled to those sales because she's been here so long. No, she doesn't do the work. But her attitude is that she paid her dues years ago and now she expects you to do the leg work and let her coast. I know it's not fair but she does have seniority. Just try to avoid getting into it with her."
Fortunately for me, I knew my time working there was only temporary. But the lesson was one I've carried through life.
When we married, I watched Frank live out the opposite of entitlement thinking. His philosophy has been to never ask anyone to do a task he wasn't willing to do himself. Even when training someone. You do the work. You do the work with them. Let them do the work; you assist and cheer.
Then just this past week as I prepared a sermon about the blessings of God in our lives, I hit on the perfect antidote for living with an attitude of entitlement.
We aren't Entitled - we're Entrusted!
We aren't entitled to all the blessings of a life with Christ. But incredible blessings have been entrusted to us (His children) because of His grace and abundant love for us.
He also trusts us to be generous with those blessings and to deal compassionately with others in turn. Understanding God's lavish love causes us to respond with a sense of profound gratitude. (No room for selfishness there.)
God owes me nothing. My husband owes me nothing. My family and friends owe me nothing. But the love I've been given is generous and I'm a very thankful woman!
Hopefully, Mary had someone that eventually helped her come to understand the great chasm between Entitled and Entrusted. But you and I can certainly grasp this truth now.
Live today knowing that every relationship and every thing in your life has been entrusted to you. I promise this perspective will cause your gratitude meter to soar!
Blessings, Entrusted Ones!