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I am an Army veteran, a businessman, I have been a youth soccer coach and worked in ministry.  Here are some instances of the privileges I have experienced.

#1 – While in the Army, I learned that it could be deadly to put an unqualified person in some positions.  But, once a person became qualified and showed themselves capable and dependable, you gave them the positions of responsibility and the privilege of holding those positions.  They have earned the privilege and everyone around them will receive the benefits.

One day, a fellow who had previously been disqualified from field duty was given the opportunity to try some training because of his incessant complaining to a certain staff member.  He complained that he was being treated unfairly because of his physical stature.  He said “he was born that way and couldn’t help it”.  Furthermore, he accused the rest of us of having an unfair advantage and privilege.  During one training exercise, he threw a hand grenade like a “little boy”.  It barely cleared the safety wall, and exploded just feet from the rest of us.  Thankfully, no one was injured.  Just ringing ears for a couple of hours. He was reassigned to kitchen duty.  Privilege is earned through hard work and sometimes by way of your abilities.

#2 – I owned and ran a multi-million dollar insurance business.  I learned from experience that it was risky and usually financially fatal to put irresponsible, unqualified people in positions of responsibility.  But, once a person showed themselves as capable, dependable and responsible, it was smart business to give them positions of responsibility.  The have earned the privilege.

A man in my insurance business, who barely met the minimum requirements to keep his position as an area manager, called me one day to say I was greedy and unfair because I wouldn’t promote him to Regional Vice President status.  His work ethic was mediocre, his efforts were lacking, and he spent more time in recreation that at work.  So, l refused his request.  He left our Agency and went elsewhere.  Someone had promised him the privilege of becoming an area VP.  Within a year’s time, he had bankrupted both that agency’s area assignment and himself.  He still complains that had I given him the privilege of becoming a VP he would have succeeded.  Privilege is earned.

#3 – I coached many youth soccer teams, and they usually had winning records.  I would watch the player’s skills, dedication, capabilities, attitude and work ethics.  If a player showed themselves as teachable, capable and dependable, I always gave them the privilege of playing time and for those who excelled, I gave them the position for which they were best suited, for their efforts and for the good of the entire team.  They had earned the privilege.

One particular school soccer team I was coaching had an 8 – 0 winning record to date.  We were playing another undefeated team in our league on this particular day.  One of the parents came to me to complain that his son was not getting enough playing time and wanted his son to play in the upcoming game.  I explained that I gave his son playing time each week and that he could get more time if (1) he would lose some weight, practice more at home and listen during school practice, or (2) I could place him on the second squad where he would get more playing time.  The parent complained that I was showing preference to certain players and giving them unfair privileges.

We were leading in this soccer match against the other undefeated team, 2-1 and I offered this boy to enter the game.  He looked terrified and declined.  We won the match.  After the game this parent came to me and said I was unfair and a terrible coach, showing preference to other players.  To which I replied, “This is a TEAM sport.  I do what is best for all the players, including your son.  These boys want to win, fairly and with honor.  The privilege to play is earned.”

#4 – I was asked to start a Sunday school class in a particular church.  I was nervous about the task, but grateful.  I had never done such a thing.  I was assigned a small office for class space.  I began to pray and invite others.  I invited both church members and those outside the church.  We started with three people.  I studied for each lesson carefully and diligently, not wanting to mislead anyone.  My goal was to find my way through the Bible and to help others do the same.  God identified other capable and willing men who could teach better than I, and soon we had a rotation of about six qualified and capable teachers. The class soon outgrew the small space and needed a larger classroom.  Other capable and dependable men and women pitched in to help.  They worked hard and were committed to our cause.  I asked those who were willing and capable to start a once-a-month home fellowship for fun activities and as a means to grow closer together.  We soon had six homes brimming with happy new relationships.  I felt privileged to be part of such a capable and vibrant group of people.

Then one day the pastor called me to his office and announced that he was breaking the class into smaller classes and assigning other teachers.  He also announced that he was calling an end to the home fellowships as others in the church felt left out of the privilege to lead a group.  I explained they were always welcome to attend and after a while perhaps they could lead a group.  But, his mind was made up.  The existing teachers were retired from the Sunday school class and the home groups were abandoned.

Sadly, after one year, only one class remained, and it had shrunk in size and relocated to the original small classroom.  It seems the unqualified and incapable had gotten their wish.  You see, privilege is earned not conferred or assigned.

Self-esteem and ego are closely tied.  Being able to appreciate the former while controlling the latter can be difficult.  But, just wanting something won’t make it so.  Sometimes it takes extreme dedication, sacrifice, hard work and even some “luck”.  And, even then, you might not ‘measure up’.  And, yes, sometimes life just isn’t fair and some people aren’t fair.  If your self-esteem can’t handle that then you should change your desires or go make your way!  But, that’s the way life is and always has been.

Complaining about it, cheating, bullying or becoming jealous, angry or violent might get you the position you crave, but, it usually won’t change the outcome.  If you aren’t qualified or capable for a particular task or goal you might just fail.  If you are not dependable, you will probably fail and you and all those around you will suffer.  Like it or not.

You see, I know what I am talking about because, I have ‘been there and done that’.  I have had my share of failures.  But, I am grateful for the experiences, thankful for the chances to have tried.  I appreciate the successes I have had,  and I admire and respect those who made the grade above me.

Privilege is earned, and sometimes it just takes a little “luck”.  Please stop complaining and work at your goals.  Work hard, be diligent, pray a lot, make yourself qualified, become capable, be dependable.  Then, maybe, just maybe, you’ll get the privilege and all of us will benefit from your hard work and “luck”.

Mike Young

privilege = sometimes it’s unfair; sometimes it’s luck; but somehow, it is always earned.

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