Expectations are relationship-killers. The wife expects her new husband to be the Prince Charming of her dreams. The boss expects the new secretary to read his mind. The congregation expects the new pastor to reverse the declining attendance, preach inspiring sermons, and attend every social occasion. The pastor expects the members to support him, keep down dissension, and respond to every challenge he throws their way. I expect the 3,000 plus who read this article to click on “respond” and tell me how it was precisely what you needed today.
It sounds so noble to have high expectations. Like we believe in one another. But it’s a trap. The person who expects perfection of me has set us both up for disappointment. I am not perfect, and anyone looking my way to find it will leave in frustration. I am, however, encouraged to find Scripture dealing with this subject. Lately, I’ve been camping out in the vicinity of Luke 6 and 7, making discoveries about our misplaced expectations and the rightful place to direct them.
1. Expectations about other people: Give them up. In Luke 6:32-36, after commanding us to love our enemies and do good to those who do us wrong, Jesus cautions us to expect nothing from the people to whom we minister. It’s just like the carnal world, He says, to do things to others then sit back, expecting a proper response. “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them, without expecting to get anything back.” Everyone who ministers in the church or through her would save himself a lot of grief by jettisoning his expectations. If the people respond, fine; if not, that is their choice. Do your job and go on to the next task, with eyes on the Master.
2. Expectations about Jesus: Lift them up. Luke 7:1-10 tells of the Roman centurion who intercedes with Jesus for his ailing servant, then sends a delegation to ask Him not even to bother coming to the house. “I do not consider myself worthy,” he said, then added, “But say the word, and my servant will be healed.” This man has focused everything on Jesus. That’s the point. We never go wrong in looking to Jesus as our Shepherd, Sustainer, Strength, Salvation, and Song. (Don’t be put off by the ‘S’ words; believers can do this for every letter of the alphabet! Jesus is our Alpha, Almighty, Apostle, Amen, Author, and Advocate; Brightness, Beloved, Beginning, Bridegroom, Bread of life, and Branch; Chosen, Captain, Comforter, Cornerstone, Chief, and Counselor