Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Leave Your Expectations at the Door

Photo by Jacek Korona
Great Expectations

We're all guilty of expecting too much from people, spouses, family members, friends, organizations, things, and even ourselves. Perhaps, because of how we were raised as children, how much money our family had or didn't have when we were growing up, or how loving or unloving our families have been, we all consciously or subconsciously wire up our brains with a certain set of expectations.

We anticipate (and even demand) that others act a certain way or do something specific that we would like them to do, and when they don't, we get hacked off. We don't even understand the reasoning behind why we get so upset with people. Most of the time, we don't make our expectations clear. We get upset with others, and they have no clue that they haven't even met our expectations.

Expectations About God

Depending on our spiritual journey, our relationship with our earthly father (or lack of one), and our level of maturity, I think we have a tendency to place a lot of expectations on God. We've heard enough of the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel from the TV preachers that we start believing what these guys are telling us.

How could a loving God allow me to lose my job? How could the God that I serve let my marriage fall apart? Why would God permit me to only make $50,000 a year when I really need to make at least $100,000? Why didn't God heal my husband of cancer?

God is God, and He's going to do what He's going to do. He's going to allow things to happen in all of our lives that don't make sense to our way of thinking and the expectations we have about the God of the Universe. He sees the big picture. Trust Him. He knows best. Don't place expectations on your Heavenly Father.

Expectations About People

Heavy expectations placed on people are real relationship killers. I was recently talking with a close friend about expectations in marriage. My friend had just attended one of those weekend marriage conferences because she is preparing to get married in a few days. The big idea that she came away with from the conference is that when you are dating a potential mate, you need to have both eyes wide open for potential problems. Once you decide to marry that person and walk the aisle, though, you need to go into the marriage with your eyes half closed. You must leave your expectations at the door. The person you are married to will fail you. They will never meet all of your expectations.

The same holds true with all relationships - our relationships with our children, our extended family, our friends, and our acquaintances. Since we're all flawed human beings, we're going to fail each other. If you're going to have any expectations, then EXPECT that we're not going to meet one another's expectations!

Expectations About Our Money

If you are a hard worker and good at what you do in your calling, career, or business, then I think we all have certain expectations that we're going to make money hand over fist. Unfortunately, that's not always how things work out, especially in a down economy, such as the one we now find ourselves in.

All we can do is be the best money manager of what we currently are receiving. If God wants us to have more to manage, then He will bless us with more and see how we handle the additional blessings. If He needs us to learn additional financial lessons, then He will give us what He gives us. We should be content with whatever that amount is.

Does this mean that we shouldn't work harder, do some overtime, or pickup additional work? Maybe or maybe not. It depends on your situation. If you're working hard on your debt snowball or your emergency fund, then that would be a great reason to pursue additional financial resources. But, if you're doing it just to get rich, then that may not be such a great reason.

The Solution For Battling Expectations

I believe that an attitude of contentment and thanksgiving is a great remedy for heavy expectations. When you are content with where you currently are at with people, money, and stuff, then your expectations are lowered, maybe even disappear altogether. When you're living a life of thankfulness and gratitude for who and what God has brought into your life right now, you have lowered expectations.

Most of us are living pretty sweet lives, even during times of difficulty. We get focused on bigger and better, though, and we raise our expectations. When you're battling with high expectations, try switching your focus on contentment and thanksgiving and see what happens. And, by the way, just leave your expectations at the door.

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