According to the site Statistic Brain, 50 billion dollars is lost annually in the U.S. due to employees stealing from their employer. That accounts for 43% of “shrinkage” or retail loss (shoplifting was 37%). According to Fortune, that’s a higher percentage than anywhere else in the world.
Why do people steal from their employers? I would guess that a major part of the reason has to do with them adopting the attitude of entitled insiders. As insiders who work there and know things about the business that others don’t, they somehow feel this status justifies them taking what isn’t theirs. I know that’s quite a leap in logic but apparently lots of people are making the jump.
This is something of the mindset that James and John have as they approach Jesus in Mark 10:35ff. They are certainly insiders as they are two of twelve disciples that Christ chose to follow Him (Mark 3:13ff). Moreover, James and John (along with Peter) constitute the inner circle of disciples. Their social media status would read “insider squared.”
They use this status as leverage to make an extremely childish initial request of Jesus—“we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” As any parent knows, this has “bad idea” written all over it. They’re essentially saying to Jesus, “We have something to ask you that we’re actually embarrassed to ask because we know it’s wrong. So if You would just agree ahead of time to do this it will save us the embarrassment of you assessing our request based on its actual merit” (of which it has none). That they would even dare to approach Jesus this way gives us some insight into the level of entitlement they are caught up in.
Their request is embarrassing—they want special places of honor in glory with Jesus. In the context, this has to do with being honored above the other disciples. It seems that they understand Jesus is something special, He’s in the process of doing something special and whatever that it is—they want to be sure they’re not overlooked so they’re doing what comes naturally–they’re looking out for number one.
Unfortunately, we’re not immune to the phenomena of insider entitlement. If you’ve ever been put off because someone was sitting in “your place” at church or even worse, came in late and you had to slide over so they could sit in your place—that’s insider entitlement. The same thing’s true for parking spaces. (You see, we have our own “places of honor,” don’t we?) And we’ve all known people who were sure the prestige of their family, the amount of their financial contribution, or something else qualified them for special treatment. It’s like the tee shirt I saw that said, “God loves everyone but I’m His favorite.” That’s the essence of the attitude of insider entitlement and the opposite of the core values of the kingdom. It’s wasn’t a good look for James and John and twenty centuries have done nothing to change how it looks with us. When we find ourselves drifting in this direction we need to remind ourselves that the church doesn’t belong to us—it belongs to God and we’re just blessed to sit at the table with everyone else.