Entitlement Mentality


My syndiakonoi (co-workers) in our Risen Lord,
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

"Once one realizes they are entitled to nothing, they become grateful for everything."

Who is considered to be a healthy church member? And who is considered to be the opposite of a healthy church member?

For decades many Orthodox laity felt that they were entitled church members. He or she understood the church as a secular organization that doles out benefits somewhat like a country club. The church, therefore, exists for the members rather than the members serving sacrificially as the Body of Christ as Saint Paul writes to the Corinthians: "For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of the one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free--and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many...that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually" (1 Corinthians 12).

There is no such thing as an "individual" Christian. Being "knit together in love" (Col. 2:2), we are called in Christ to "suffer" together, be honored together and rejoice together. The purpose of spiritual gifts is the growth of the whole Church. "A charism is a gift of the Holy Spirit given for the benefit of others. But no person possesses all the gifts" (Saint Basil the Great). Every member of Christ's Body is important to the overall life and work of the Church.

What are some of the negative consequences of this entitlement mentality?

  1. More conflicts and church fights. When church members have an entitlement mentality, they get angry when they don't get their way. It thus leads to conflict and even church fights.

  2. Priest and staff perceived to be hired hands. Forget the idea of the priest/shepherd teaching the saints (Christians) to serve in Christ's diakonia (ministry). Entitled members view the priest to be as hired by them for a 'specific' purpose i.e., to conduct the Divine Liturgy, Sacraments, funerals, etc. and someone who can be fired by them if dissatisfied with his performance according to them. And as an employee of the parish he has no opinion on the direction of the church, that is only their prerogative, after all they "pay his salary."

  3. Keeps the focus off the Holy Mission of the Church. Christ is dethroned and replaced by certain politically powerful members of the parish council.

  4. Creates unhealthy alliances. Entitled parish members often form alliances with other parish members of similar unhealthy mindsets. They are called cliques and power groups. They can be members of an extended family, i.e., koumbaroi, cousins, in-laws, etc, or can be a diverse group of members simply determined to get their own way.

  5. Stewardship manipulation. The money given to the church is not done so with open hands. It has string or conditions attached, and those strings will jerk the money or even volunteering work back the moment entitled church members do not get their way.

  6. Turns the church facility into a shrine. When members insist on getting their way, the church facility becomes an object of their own desires. The fight could be over a color of paint or carpet, insignificant errors in financial reports, of personal interpretations of the Uniform Regulations of the Archdiocese, etc. The sad possibilities are endless.

Orthodox Christianity, the Authentic Church is founded by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is the only Head of the Church. God the Holy Spirit nurtures and guides His Church. Millions of Christian believers have sacrificed their life for Christ and the Church over 2,000 years. The Church is Christ. There is no one that can change either the character, course, or the mission of the Church in the world. Jesus Himself assures us that "I will built My Church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" (St. Matthew 16:18).

I ask all of you to be humble and obedient to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and to His Holy Church.

In His Divine Diakonia,

+Father George