by Pastor Tim Burt
I have a thought for you to ponder today. It’s about one of the root causes of your grouchiness. For years, I taught leadership at church and continue to do so as I travel and speak. An occasional question I ask often takes people by surprise: “Do you know that you’re sometimes grouchy? And when you are grouchy, do you know why?” You are grouchy because you often, or at least occasionally, have unspoken or unthought expectations that you haven’t communicated and consequently, people are frustrating you, leading to your grouchiness.
One of the areas I was responsible for at church was Pastoral Care. Sometimes people get sick and end up in the hospital. When this happened, If they or a relative or friend would call us and let us know about it, we would come to visit, minister, and pray with them. If they were going in for surgery and wanted us to be there to pray with them beforehand, we would be there. But if we didn’t know about it because no one told us, then in their eyes, we failed because we didn’t meet their expectation of coming. This failure occurs because they didn’t communicate their expectations to us. People don’t realize that God considers the act of mind-reading, a demonic activity. Well, none of us are mind-readers, and we don’t always pick up on the cryptic hints people leave us assuming we’ll understand what they want or need. Expectations need to be communicated and defined if you want others to fulfill them. When expectations are met, people feel content rather than grouchy.
People often have unspoken and undefined expectations in various areas of their life including their job, marriage, church, etc. This is a common communication failure that even the most skilled communicators struggle with. Undefined expectations that you didn’t even realize you had, are rarely fulfilled and can leave a trail of disappointment. This can result in feeling grouchy. The blame for these undefined expectations is usually directed at the person who failed to meet them. For instance, let’s say your boss wants something specific from your performance but has never communicated it to you. He may not even be consciously aware of these expectations, but they exist within him. Can you guess what might happen? You’re likely to fail because he never conveyed those expectations to you. Would that seem unfair? It always feels unfair when you’re a victim of uncommunicated expectations. This issue is especially evident in family dynamics, causing pain, bitterness, and grouchy behavior.
Expectations need to be well-thought-out, reasonable, clear, and communicated. This benefits both the person setting the expectations and the individuals they are directed at. Expectations must be negotiated and agreed upon with a spirit of mutual preference as we see in Romans 12:10 (NIV) “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
God provides reasonable expectations, filled with hope, love, mercy, and patience toward us. Psalm 62:5 states, “I wait quietly before God, for my expectations come from Him.” God communicates His expectations clearly. The Apostle Paul repeatedly lays out God’s expectations for Christian behavior in his epistles. God is patient and merciful in His expectations, understanding that change takes time. He wants us to demonstrate the same patience and mercy toward others.
Here’s a simple way I handle frustration. I ask myself if I have uncommunicated expectations. If I do, I admit it’s my responsibility and then ask God for forgiveness. I then work to seek reasonable expectations and work on communicating them clearly while remaining patient with others. I remember that behavioral change takes time and is helped with reminders. Reflecting back, developing this skill has been immensely beneficial in becoming a better leader.
So, as you navigate through times of grouchiness, remember that unspoken expectations are usually the culprit. Pause and ask yourself if you’ve communicated them clearly. Learning to do so will help you become a better version of yourself.
Proverbs 23:18 says, “For then there will surely be a future for you, and your expectations shall not be disappointed.”
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In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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