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The dangers of entitlement

We should see our calling to serve in missions as a privilege, not a right. The God of the Universe, all supreme and powerful, considers us—broken and sinful, yet forgiven—as, through His Son, worthy to serve Him. This is an awesome privilege. Those of us who have been around for a long time must diligently guard against a sense of entitlement that can creep into our thinking. It is a destructive mindset that will lead to toxic behaviour. Deal with it: We are not the centre of the Universe. 

As followers of Jesus, we are showered with blessings, purpose, significance, and gifts based not on our merit but on the character of the giver: God Himself (Eph. 1:3, NIV). Yet, over time, we can presume that we have merited these blessings. Such an attitude dishonours God and devalues our own character. Living with a sense of entitlement is common today, but it is odious to the Lord. If anything, experiencing His bounty should result in deep humility and, frankly, surprise: “Imagine: God has blessed me!”

All of us in OM have volunteered to serve; God owes us no favours for our service or leadership. Looking at myself, I might see God’s sense of humour. But He makes no mistakes in whom He equips for different roles. God has specific tasks for me to do; when they are completed, He will call someone else to lead and I will look for other ways to contribute. 

Our personal relationship with Jesus is one of master and servant/slave. Jesus points out, “Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” (Luke 17: 9-10, NIV) That is seldom preached or modelled today. It’s not up to us to determine the limits or parameters of how we serve. I once invited an OM leader to speak to a team; he responded that he only speaks to a minimum of 500 people! This was how he exercised stewardship of his time and supported his ministry strategy. He probably could have been more effective to speak with five people, but his sense of entitlement warped his metrics.

A better blessing

We have not consciously affirmed our people enough in OM – in part because we have had a self-effacing culture. Often, we showed affirmation through promotion, which was unwise because it placed people in roles they weren’t suited for. 

Getting past that dark hurt of feeling unnoticed is possible. Eliminating a sense of entitlement through gratitude to Christ will lead to greater contentment and peace. Once I accepted that positions should come to me instead of seeking them, as I continued to serve, joy returned to my daily life. No one owes me anything.

Paul says that we have been appointed as Christ’s ambassadors: a role with dignity, authority, and gravity (2 Cor. 5:16–21), “approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel” (1 Thess. 2:4). We represent the kingdom of heaven on earth (John 18:36), and it is our responsibility to reflect the official position of heaven. Our role as ambassadors of Christ is to take the message of our King to the “ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8), imploring men and women everywhere to be reconciled to God. Being a child of God brings us the ultimate entitlement as we await Christ’s return. In the meantime, keep Christ first, for He knows our every thought, word, and deed. You cannot please everyone, but you can please one, and He is Christ.

 

Thank you for your prayers and support of all OM ministries worldwide.

Lawrence Tong

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