My expectations often get me into trouble. When I "expect" someone to behave in a certain way, it can quickly lead to disappointment. When I "expect" something to work, it often leads to disappointment. As I write this, I can think of dozens of examples of expectations I have for people, places, and things to operate according to my standards. What is the alternative?
Let's see what the Bible says about expectations and how we should "expect" the world to work.
THE BIBLICAL VIEW OF EXPECTATIONS
When we find ourselves burdened by the weight of our expectations, we must turn to God's word for wisdom and guidance. The Bible provides a wealth of insights on how we should perceive our expectations and align them with God's will. Here are five key lessons that help me, and maybe you, let go of our expectations, experience fewer disappointments, and become more effective Christ-following leaders.
2. Loosen Our Grip on Control
Life's unpredictability is inevitable. We cannot control everything, and often things don't go as we expect them to. James 4:13-15 reminds us of this: "Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.'" We should remember to factor in God’s will in all our plans and be prepared for changes. As leaders, we are to help others embrace this concept as well, all the while setting goals for others to achieve. Having goals is a good and necessary function for leaders, but having rigid expectations is not. We cannot control outcomes.
3. Great Leaders are Patient with Missed Goals
Our expectations can sometimes stem from our need to see immediate results or outcomes. However, the Bible reminds us in Habakkuk 2:4, "See, the one who is righteous will live by his faith." Instead of expecting immediate results, we must cultivate a heart of patience, waiting upon the Lord and trusting in His timing. As leaders, we need to demonstrate patience and acceptance when our expectations are not met. The Serenity Prayer really helps us here: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
4. Find Contentment in God
Philippians 4:11-13 says, "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." Our ultimate source of contentment should be God, not the outcomes we expect. It is human to have expectations, and we will never eliminate them. The test of a Christ-follower is the way that a Christ-follower responds to missed expectations. We can and will be content in all circumstances - when things go our way - and when they don’t.
5. Rest in God’s Promises
While it's natural for us to have expectations, we should ground them in the promises of God. Hebrews 10:23 urges us to, "Hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." When we feel let down by unmet expectations, we can find solace in the eternal promises of God. Every time there is a missed expectation, this is an opportunity for us to deepen our practical application of God’s Word in our lives.
While it’s human nature to have expectations, we should strive to align them with biblical principles. By putting our hope in the Lord, acknowledging life's uncertainties, living by faith, finding contentment in God, and resting in His promises, we can manage and even surpass our earthly expectations. Remember, God's ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9), and in every situation, He is working for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Amen.
Your aspiring servant,
October 3, 2023
POSTSCRIPT: Dear friends, if this daily, transparent “Conversations with Christ” blesses you, please go to www.SOLIDpastors.org, where you will find these posted, and a repository of all, in English and Spanish. Note: All scriptures quoted are from the NIV.
If you ever want to chat, you can reach me at Daniel@SOLIDpastors.org. May Christ bless you richly as you have your own intimate, daily conversations with Christ.