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 on leadership at church, and continue to do so now as I travel and speak. A question I occasionally ask is one that often takes people by surprise. I ask them, So do you know that you’re grouchy sometimes? And when you are grouchy, do you know why you are? You are because you often or at least occasionally have unthought or unspoken expectations that you’ve not communicated and because of it, people are frustrating you! And so you get grouchy!
One of the areas I was responsible for at church was Pastoral Care. Sometimes people get sick and end up in the hospital. If they’d tell us this happened, we would always come to visit, minister to, and pray with them. If they were going in for surgery and if they wanted, we would meet them at the hospital before they had their operation and we would pray with them and minister to them. But if we don’t know about it because they’ve never told us, yet in their minds assumed we’d figure it out, show up, and be there for them, then we will fail meeting their expectations. We failed because they failed to communicate their expectation to us. People don’t realize that God considers the subject of mind-reading as demonic activity. Well, none of us are mind-readers and we don’t always pick up the cryptic hints people leave, assuming we’ll figure out what they want or need. Expectations need to be communicated and defined if you want others to meet them. When expectations are met, people get grouchy!
People often have unspoken (and subconsciously) undefined expectations. They do so in their job, their marriage, in their church, etc. It is a common communication failure that even the most skilled communicators fail at. Undefined expectations or expectations that you didn’t even really realize that you had, are almost never fulfilled. They leave a wake of disappointment. They create grouchy! 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. He’s thought about it a few times but has never spoken of it or laid out his exceptions with you. He may not even be consciously aware that he has these expectations—but he does! They exist within him and he’s not spoken them to you. So, can you figure out what’s going to happen? You are most likely going to fail at them because he has never communicated them to you. Will that seem unfair to you? It always feels unfair when you are the victim of uncommunicated expectations! The family structure is notorious for this. Husbands, wives, and children violate this constantly and it creates pain, bitterness and grouchy people!
Expectations exist within everyone. We walk through life with an expectation that people respond to us and life as we perceive it should happen, with definite expectations. This is what makes law and order so important to consistently execute. When it’s not, people don’t have an expectation that they will be held to it and when they are, it feels unjust. Thus we have the immigration dilemmas that faces all walks of society today.
Many people carry around unreasonable expectations. They feel frustrated and they don’t know why. They have the immature attitude that all their personal expectations should be met! They don’t understand the world does not work that way. Expectations should be thought out so they are reasonable and clear and communicated. It will be a great blessing to those that expectations are pointed at. They cannot remain subconscious, undefined, and uncommunicated. That means their will be concessions on both sides to an expectation. That IS how the world works. Expectations must be negotiated and agreed upon with the spirit of preferring one another. That is the Lord’s expectation toward us. Romans 12:10 (NKJV) “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.” When this doesn’t happen, then people will walk through life with unmet expectations, immature attitudes, and they will bark at everyone around them because they are unhappy and they don’t even know why. You don’t want to be around these kind of people.
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.” God is clear in communicating them. The Apostle Paul, lays out God’s expectations for Christian behavior repeatedly through the epistles. God is so clear and patient in His expectations with you and I. He knows change and transformation happens over time so He is patient and merciful in those expectations. Likewise He wants you to be so with others.
When a couple enters into marriage, they are entering into a new season of learning to adapt to each other’s desired ways of doing things. Neither gets to say, My way or the highway! They have to take time communicating and deciding mutually how they are going to walk things out together. Renee and I butted heads in the early years of our marriage because we didn’t understand it was about preferring each other as we adapted. We treated getting our way like a competition from American Ninja Warriors. You can figure out how that worked!
Here is a simple way I walk this out. When I feel frustrated about anything I ask myself, Do I have some looming expectation going on? If so, have I clearly defined and communicated my expectation 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. I then need to work toward clearly communicating them while being patient with the one I have expectations of. I must remember that changes of behavior take time and reminding. As I look back, it’s probably one of the most beneficial skills I’ve developed in my efforts to become a better leader. And it will help you also!
So ask yourself as you walk through the different scenarios of your day, What are the expectations you have and have you communicated them clearly with a plan for them to happen? Learning to do so will make a better you!
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 Burt
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Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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