Volunteer Entitlement

There is nothing like being an insider. We all want to be insiders – to have special information, advanced access or unique privileges. I do not think that desire is a bad thing. When I talk to people who volunteer I want them to feel special and privileged to be on the team. This sort of thinking is always in play for us as humans. In high school it was the equivalent of the letterman jacket. In college it might be the inclusion in the choice fraternity or sorority. In your career it might have to do with having a cube or an office, or the location of your office. We want all of the accolades and benefits of being an insider.

This desire is not bad, but it has to be reigned in. Each of us has different areas of life where we are a part of the insider group. Jesus had an insider crew, and he spoke to them about this very topic. In Luke 10 we find Jesus sending out the 72 in his name. He appointed them and sent them out, and they saw some incredible things happen as a result of their ministry. Verse 17 tells us that the 72 returned with joy, celebrating what they had been a part of. Jesus takes this moment to adjust their thinking, and encourages them to take a humble perspective from their “insider” seat. He tells them that they have one reason to rejoice…”that your names are written in heaven.” (vs. 20).

Before the 72 went and got a tattoo to commemorate their awesome results, Jesus wanted to encourage them to remain humble. Without humility there is something that creeps in for any insider – Entitlement.

Entitlement is the belief that my position or role means that there are certain things that I now deserve. Volunteers can easily struggle with this idea – whether it looks like getting certain parking spots at church, or maybe getting early access to save a seat. Sometimes it can look like an expectation that we should know information before many others. Entitlement can shows its face in a number of ways.

Volunteering doesn’t entitle us to something – rather it invites us to put others ahead of ourselves. It means taking the far parking spot. It means giving up the good seat to take a less ideal chair. It means being grateful for your spot on the bus, without caring which seat is yours.

If you find yourself struggling with entitlement issues, draw your attention to the declaration we find in 1 John 4:19 – which reminds us that, “we love because He first loved us…” You see we serve a God who was and is entitled to the highest position – yet He took the humble role of a servant. Jesus didn’t use His position to benefit Himself, but rather used His role to serve others. When we sense entitlement rising up in our spirit we can be encouraged to follow the model of Jesus – who “did nothing out of selfish ambition” (Phil 2:3) but rather “took on the very nature of a servant” (Phil 2:7).

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