The Troublesome Baggage of Expectations–and How to Cast It Off

Expectations can serve as a type of troublesome baggage.  While some expectations are good (payment for services rendered, good grades coming from strong study habits, etc.), many times, expectations are fueled by our own desires.  It manifests itself in disturbing ways.  For example:

  • Marriage:  Every person enters into marriage with some expectations, but in reality, those expectations could be baggage brought in and color the relationship.  For example, if a husband comes in from background with a strong, domineering father, while the wife comes in with a background where dads were absent or abusive—those backgrounds can color expectations.
  • Parenting:  Whatever is modeled as a parent will likely be emulated by the child.  A strong disciplinarian coupled with a lax disciplinarian could bring friction because of those expectations regarding the nature of parenting.
  • Neighbors:  If you expect to live in a quiet neighborhood, while your neighbor is anything but quiet, then those expectations will color your relationships.  If you expect to live in a neighborhood where neighbors have barbeque picnics and watch football together, yet everyone stays cloistered in their homes, then those expectations will color those relationships.
  • Church: Whatever your experiences you have in church, you bring those in to a current church.  If you expect a church to act a certain way (whether good or bad), then those expectations will likely come true unless the church acts absolutely perfect in all things.

The problem with expectations is that we tend to expect others to conform to us.  We also risk not making the effort to invest in those relationships to find out their backgrounds.  So,

  • Marriages are strained or break up because of perceived personal needs not being met.
  • Parents fail to find harmony, and thus send the children mixed signals—and the children know how to work the system.
  • We fail to reach out to our neighbors because they aren’t conforming to your personal Law of Neighbordom.
  • We leave churches because we’ve brought that baggage of expectation without investing in others or investigating the vision of the church.

So what do we do?

  1. Ask God to reveal your baggage of expectations.  What personal Law are you enforcing on others, even ones you love?
  2. Remember that you are a sinner whose perspective is fallen and skewed.
  3. Remember that Jesus came not to be served, but to serve—and since Christ is in us, let’s serve rather than put those troublesome expectations on others (Mark 10:42-45).
  4. Make sure your expectations come from objective truth, not subjective desires.  You expect policemen to carry out objective laws in society. You don’t have the right to expect those laws to be suspended just for you, Your Majesty.

What do false expectations do to you, personally?  What can false expectations do to your church?

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