Unmet Expectations

 
 
Have you ever been disappointed? Of course you have!  All of us meet with disappointment at some level.  Today I want to talk about unmet expectations (disappointments) that may lead to anger and feelings of not being appreciated.  Let’s face it.  None of us see the “whole picture” in any given situation.  And that’s how disappointment can result!

Partial insight may lead to unmet expectations, which can lead to hard feelings and even strife.  Disappointments not tempered by the Holy Spirit can cause us to question leadership credibility.  This, in turn, can lead to rebellion.

Many years ago, I applied for a youth pastor position in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.  I was sure that I met the necessary qualifications and more!  Living in Alabama at the time and being unemployed, put my expectations on high alert.  I just knew that I would be hired. Not only was I passed over for the position, I was told, “You’re not youth pastor material.  You may want to consider getting out of ministry altogether.”  

Unmet expectations caused me to become critical and unreasonable.  God put me on the shelf for two years to correct my attitude.  The man who was hired did a wonderful job and later, in God’s time, I accepted the call to pastor my first church.  God had something better for me, but I allowed my unmet expectations to make me dogmatic and pride-filled.

Unmet expectations are partially brought on by our unwillingness to change formerly learned patterns.  We all live in comfort zones – those places where we settle into familiar areas of every day activity we call routine, and where most of us function nicely.  Routine fosters a sense of security, and that’s okay, but sometimes God requires us to move from routine to the unfamiliar to re-direct us.  Our comfort zones are stripped away so that we can be of greater use to the Master. 

God calls us to embrace new seasons of life; and frankly, new seasons are coming whether we like them or not.  When recently helping a friend to move, I said, “I used to jump off the back of pick-up trucks, now I slither off the tailgate!”  Feet, legs and hips no longer withstand high jumps!  It’s the difference between age 40 and age 62.  Forced flexibility protects me from broken bones! 

Unmet expectations cause us to become inflexible and fearful, which often lead to anger.  We used to say, “Learn to go with the flow.”  In our fast-changing world, it seems that nothing remains the same. 

Most of us have difficulty with change.  Comfort zones, which become threatened, cause us to lash out at anything that smacks of change.  “After all,” we reason, “If it worked in the past, it should be good enough for today as well.”

I’ve actually seen churches hurt, even divided by those who fight change and whose expectations (comfort zones) go unmet.  While the Scriptures tell us, “I am the God who changes not,” everything He does in and through the church has expiration dates, according to the seasons He implements.  The message of the Gospel never changes, but God’s methodologies are subject to constant change.  God places inside all of us creative ingenuity, whose goal is to reach people where they are. 

This has nothing to do with compromise; it ties in with God’s on-going passion to win the lost.  God is always looking for ways to draw people into the Kingdom.  Be careful.  Your unmet expectations may really be God’s invitation to a renewed celebration of His grace in your life. 

And your inflexibility and non-compliance may be the cause of a ministry not moving forward like it needs to.  You sure don’t want that!  Never be a hindrance, but always helpful.  After all, it’s not about you.  It’s about what’s best for His on-going work of redemption in the lives of people who desperately need the Lord.  Those who have been in the faith and in the church for years would do well to remember that the work of the Lord moves forward only through unity. 

Unmet expectations are not the end of the world, but they could lead to the hindrance of God’s work in a given church, at a given time, for kingdom purposes.  Never allow what you want or what you think to override God’s intended purposes.  It’s not about you.  It’s about His work!   Can I get an “Amen?”

  

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