We go through life with expectations; strong beliefs that certain things will happen. It could be getting married, having children or buying your own home. It could be that we have an expectation of free health care and education for all.
But we can’t always control what happens, and so life doesn’t always live up to our expectations. So how do we manage our expectations when they are no longer being met?
With riots spreading uncontrollably throughout London and the UK we start to seriously question the tactics of our Police and government. They’re failing to meet the expectations we place on them to maintain peace and order. The media have had a field day suggesting extreme tactics like bringing in the British Army.
This has been a challenge for us lately, we’re now 6 months in to the church plant and our expectations have not been met. I thought that by now we would have had a premises, I thought by now we would have a great coffee shop running, that we’d be really effective in serving the community and that the church would be growing. However we find ourselves still waiting to secure a premises, and even if we are successful this month it is unlikely we will be in a position to open until December or the new year. Arghhh!
I could look at this and seek to blame someone. “God its you! You gave me this vision and you gave me these expectations and now you’re failing to meet them. So I question you and I question your tactics; I’m going to call in the Army!”
In other words we doubt God and we begin to think of different strategies in order to have our expectations fulfilled. However this is a colossal mistake. When things don’t go according to our expectations, our response as Christians should not be to panic or to question, neither should it be the time to try and assume control and make things happen the way we want them to. Instead our response should be to wait patiently, to be at peace, and to keep trusting – trusting that he who has promised will be faithful.
In the past 6 months, there have been times when I have panicked because things have not gone according to my plans. I’ve questioned whether I’m doing the right thing and whether I should just throw in the towel and go and get a different ministerial position. But then I take time to be with God and I find the peace that surpasses understanding. I discover that the last 6 months have not been wasted. I can see how God has been at work in me and those around me. I can understand that in this time God is teaching me things that if I had been busy setting up the cafe I would not have learnt.
So the bottom line is, I am learning to manage my expectations. I am learning what I want to happen is not important because actually, it is what God wants to happen that is of paramount importance. So the best way to manage my expectations is to surrender them and to follow Him, and I encourage you to do the same.