The Spirit That's Taking Over Our Nation—And It's Not Jezebel

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John Burton dealt with entitled people recently while on an airplane.
John Burton dealt with entitled people recently while on an airplane. (Flickr/Creative Commons)

Waiters and Waitresses

My wife and I have a standing rule in our family. When we go to a restaurant we always tip at least 20 percent—no matter how great or terrible the service is.

An attitude of entitlement rises up possibly most often in our nation when seated for lunch or dinner in a restaurant. The expectation is that we are to be served, and if we are, then we will give the server a small gift.

What would happen if we turned those dinner tables by determining to serve the server instead of demanding they jump through our hoops?

"Give to everyone who asks of you. And of him who takes away your goods, do not ask for them back. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. 'For if you love those who love you, what thanks do you receive? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what thanks do you receive? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what thanks do you receive? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much in return. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be the sons of the Highest. For He is kind to the unthankful and the evil. Be therefore merciful, even as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:30-36).

I'll say it bluntly: Servers aren't dogs we give treats to when they obey our commands.

Additionally, we aren't there to train them or to punish them when they fail. What better place to break an attitude of entitlement than a restaurant? What better place to serve with passion?

Just as it was extremely easy to push the button to raise my airplane seat back up, it's just as easy to write in a few extra dollars on the tip line on your receipt. In fact, maybe we should give more when service is poor. That sure would seem to follow biblical principles much more than punishing those who fail us does. 

If we are to bless those who curse us, surely we can bless those who fail to refill our drink as quickly as we'd like.

"We who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of the weak and not please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification" (Rom. 15:1-2).

I was sitting in a popular national chain restaurant on a ministry trip recently. A hostess seated an older husband and wife at a table near ours. Admittedly the hostess was a little quirky and possibly a bit insecure, but she was, without exaggeration, one of the most friendly people I've come across! She was pleasant, extremely attentive to everybody she came in contact with and did an amazing job. The couple she seated didn't like that the sun was shining in their eyes so they asked if they could move. The hostess very nicely told them she could pull down the shade for them, which she did. After she left their table the couple grumbled. They were exhibiting entitlement. After all, they were the paying customer and they should be able to be accommodated per their wishes, right?

Or, maybe they could have endured the discomfort with cheerful hearts.

"Do all things without murmuring and disputing, that you may be blameless and harmless, sons of God, without fault, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world" (Phil. 2:14-15).

I read a story the other day of a patron in a restaurant that wrote in LOL on the tip line of their check with the comment "1 hour for food" alongside it. The server lost out on over $20 because the kitchen didn't turn out food quickly enough for the entitled customer. The customer took it upon himself to teach the server a lesson instead of blessing her extravagantly. This has to stop.

Revival

Interestingly, one of the major manifestations of a spirit of entitlement comes when contending for revival in a region (or any manifestation of God's plans and promises in any setting).

Something happens when the prophecies of a massive outpouring in a region start flooding in. Instead of resulting in a contending spirit in the church it most often results in a lazy, entitled church that presumes they are due a move of God. They wait and wait with eyebrows raised irritated that there's a delay of the arrival of what's rightfully theirs.

We need to remember that any prophecy not found in Scripture is conditional. It's contingent on the response of the people. If revival is prophesied over a region then a primary enemy to revival is a people who are expecting revival to come—without being the laborer that revival demands.

I believe this is the result of a casual, American theology that emphasizes easy salvation and an easy life for those who name the name of Christ. If we jump through the hoops of tithing, praying, reading our Bibles and asking Jesus into our hearts (which really isn't biblical, but that can be addressed at a different time), then by all means we presume to be owed a mansion in heaven!

It's no wonder there are over 19,000 cities in our nation and none of them are engulfed in revival. Not one. Is there a presumption that we are entitled to revival and that it will come regardless of our participation?

In one particular region there was an extremely strong spirit of entitlement that had infiltrated the culture. Revival was extremely close to breaking out, yet you could pick up on that spirit as people were slow to respond, casual and lazy. The laborers didn't show up in sufficient strength.

I'll never forget a stern prophetic word that was given in that season: If this region doesn't respond to the opportunity for revival, then God will move on.

He named the next city that would be given an opportunity.

Well, the hope of revival did leave that region (not that it can't return at some time; it absolutely can). Very interestingly last night I was in a meeting led by Mario Murillo here in Branson, Missouri. He named a few regions that are currently on God's radar for revival. The city that the first prophetic messenger named a few years ago was on that short list. Mario mentioned that God will move if there isn't a right response. That brought be back a few years, and the truth remains—we must say yes to the call of God and advance as if the prophecy may not come to pass—because it absolutely won't if we hold back.

The question is, will that city (Chicago) mentioned by both prophetic voices respond in this critical season or will entitlement cause the church in the region to expect the outpouring with no investment?

False Faith

Entitlement in spiritual contexts can feel a lot like faith. It's not. It's presumption.

Faith without works is dead. Maybe another way to say that could be, faith without works is presumption, or faith without works reveals a spirit of entitlement.

"What does it profit, my brothers, if a man says he has faith but has no works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and lacking daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,' and yet you give them nothing that the body needs, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But a man may say, 'You have faith and I have works.' Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God; you do well. The demons also believe and tremble. But do you want to be shown, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?" (James 2:14-20).

True faith results in action. Entitlement results in inaction.

True faith results in joyful expectation. Entitlement results in grumbling and disappointment.

True faith results in blessing those who curse us. Entitlement results in resisting and rejecting those who don't meet our expectations. We need a people to rise up who are dead to self, full of life, driven by faith, relentless in their pursuits and ready to serve others with passion, not expecting to be honored, served or counted.

Enough Is Enough

It's time for the spirit of entitlement to be eradicated from the church and the nation.

We must go low, serve others and quit making demands that promote our special interests.

Everywhere we look people are demanding what is presumably rightfully theirs. This spirit of entitlement drives major, evil movements today such as abortion, homosexuality and feminism. It's also fueling crusades and campaigns that are generally good, but tainted because of this foul spirit.

What if we stopped focusing on our own rights and started loving people even if it costs us comfort, money and vindication?

John Burton has been developing and leading ministries for over 20 years and is a sought-after teacher, prophetic messenger and revivalist. He has authored nine books, has appeared on Christian television and radio and directed one of the primary internships at the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City. Additionally, he planted two churches, has initiated two city prayer movements and is currently directing a prayer- and revival-focused ministry school in Detroit called theLab University. John also has a web- and graphic-design business and is continually developing new and exciting ventures. He and his beautiful wife, Amy, have five children and live in the Detroit area. He can be reached via his website at johnburton.net.

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