Undefined Expectations Cause Hurt

Fresh Manna 2010 By Pastor Tim Burt

I have a thought for you to ponder today. I often tell people that as a church, we can’t meet expectations that have not been defined or made known. Sometimes people get sick and end up in the hospital. If they tell us that that is happening or that they will be having surgery, etc., we can pray for and with them, visit them, and minister to them. But if we don’t know about it and they have this expectation, we will fail because they have failed to communicate it to us.

People often have unspoken (and subconsciously) undefined expectations for their job, marriage, church, etc. It is a common failure of communication that even some of the most skilled communicators fail at. Undefined expectations are almost never fulfilled but are instead disappointed and the one who takes the fall for them is the one that undefined expectations are pointed at. For example, let’s say your boss wants something from your performance. It’s just a feeling he has inside and as a result something he wants but has never defined for himself nor spoken of with you about. He’s not even totally aware that he has these expectations but he does. It exists within him.

Expectations exist within everyone, and because your boss hasn’t thought out and defined his expectations of you—much less let you know of them—you are unable to meet them. You may be shocked when one day they surface out of his frustration of unmet expectations. You think or even say to him, “Why didn’t you tell me you wanted this? I could have worked toward that goal or helped meet your expectation.” He may feel that you should have been able to figure it out. Consequence: his undefined expectation results in your failure. This is one of the most repeated failures in communication—and one many seldom learn how to fix.

Many people carry around unreasonable expectations. They feel frustrated and they don’t know why. They want something but haven’t taken the time to figure out what. Then they want people to meet an expectation they can’t even define for themself.

Expectations should be thought out so they are reasonable and clear, then they can help people that they point these (subconscious) expectations at.

I talk with couples that are angry with their spouses over things they’ve either never communicated or had unreasonable expectations over. Expectations should not be demands—they should be goals or targets of what you shoot for. They should be reasonable because it’s not always easy for those they direct them toward to meet them.

God is the giver of reasonable expectations. They are filled with hope, love, mercy and patience toward us. Psalm 62:5 says, “I wait quietly before God, for my expectations come from Him.” He is clear in communicating them. You are so thankful that He is so clear and patient in His expectations with you. Likewise He wants you to be so with others.

Here is a simple way I walk this out. When I feel frustrated about anything I ask myself; “Have I clearly defined and communicated my expectation that I’m feeling frustrated over with the person(s) I am frustrated with?” If not, it’s my bad. I need to ask God to forgive me and ask Him to help me form reasonable expectations and then clearly work toward communicating them and helping the one I have the expectation toward, understand them and meet them.

Proverbs 23:18 “For then there will surely be a future for you and your expectation shall not be cut off.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim

Published by Pastor Tim Burt
Copyright© 2010 Tim Burt, All rights reserved.