Gone are the days of Mayberry. A town made famous from the 1960’s sitcom The Andy Griffith Show, Mayberry exemplified the culture of its day. For instance, the viewer could guarantee come a Sunday morning scene, the bulk of this town would be in church. That was typical of Mayberry’s day. But this has ceased to be the case. No longer do people attend church services on Sunday mornings simply as an act of cultural acceptability. Plenty of people would prefer to sleep in on Sunday in the luxury of their home than to sacrifice their Sunday by listening to a sermon message. For these people, they must be convinced why attending church service on a Sunday morning is worth their time. This reality is especially the case among Millennials, those born roughly between the years 1980–1995. Even for Millennials who grew up in the church, many have left it if for no other reason than that they only went at their parent’s command living under their roof. For Christians, this is a problem that clearly needs a solution. However, it is not the only problem. There is another problem that persists, one in which the blame is laid mostly, if not solely, on Millennials. It is the issue of entitlement.
Not Just the Millennial Generation
With entitlement, a person clings to their rights, believing there are things they inherently deserve. They downplay their role of responsibility. They do not seem to show gratitude to those who serve them and grumble at the smallest inconvenience. When they are told, “No!” they make a scene because they think they ought to get special treatment just because of who they are. The person who lives with an entitled mindset views life through the lens of personal preference, not sacrificial service. Understanding that, the issue of entitlement is not just a problem for the Millennial generation. It is a problem for all generations.
Millennials, Mayberry, and Motives
This means the mindset of entitlement can be as much of an issue for the Millennial generation as it is for the Mayberry generation. The subtlety of Mayberry’s problem with entitlement is it comes with a mask. Because the days of Mayberry featured church attendance as the cultural norm, there may be a temptation among some, though not all, from that time to believe they do not fall into the trap of entitlement because they give up their Sunday mornings for church. What they do not realize is the marker of the entitled mindset is not defined by merely looking at what you do with your mornings but what is going on in your motives. A person can attend church weekly their entire life but if they perform that act with the belief they have earned or deserve heaven, then they have been deceived into an entitled mindset. If a person serves in church leadership but lives a life marked by constant personal preference instead of sacrificial service for the glory of God and the good of others, then they are operating from an entitled mindset. The problem of entitlement may appear more pervasive among the Millennial generation but can penetrate the Mayberry generation just the same.
Seeing the Solution
We, the Millennial and Mayberry generations, have a problem. By God’s grace, Jesus Christ provides us with the solution. As God-in-the-flesh, He did not cling to His rights but gave up His divine rights so that in becoming a servant He would be our Savior (Philippians 2:6–7). Because of His life, death, and resurrection, we are given the free gift of eternal life in Him (Romans 6:23). As sinners, we earned the payment of death. As our Savior, Jesus extended to us eternal life. God’s grace gives us the very thing we do not deserve. We are not entitled to the grace of God. It has been extended to us in Christ and we have been entrusted with this great gift. The problem of entitlement is solved by seeing the person and work of Jesus Christ. So, whether you are living as a Millennial or longing for the days of Mayberry, check your heart to see where tendencies of entitlement may be. Where there is a desire for personal preference over sacrificial service, confess your sin to God and see Christ’s person and work as your hope of salvation. Entitlement is a problem of all generations just as Christ is the hope of all generations, including the Millennials.