Blog,  Faith on Fire

Right expectations

Webster’s Merriam Dictionary defines expectation as anticipation, assurance, or something expected. I have alternatively heard expectations referred to as “premeditated resentments”. Have you ever expected your spouse to do something and they didn’t? Or your coworker to hold up their end of a project and they didn’t? Or your child to pick up their room and they didn’t? Our reactions often include resentment, disappointment, and frustration.

But, is it wrong to have expectations of our spouses, coworkers, children, or others in our lives? No. In fact, God’s word clearly defines expectations for a number of roles including spouse, employee, and parent. The word also outlines expectations for how a believer should act and engage with others. So, what goes wrong? Why do we have unmet expectations in life?

First, because we are sinners living in a fallen world, none of us can perfectly meet all expectations set forward for us. Hence, the need for God to send his Son and grant us mercy for our sins. As we receive mercy, so we should bestow grace and mercy on others. The next time you feel justified in your anger about an unfulfilled expectation, ask yourself how you would like to be treated the next time you miss the mark.

Second, poor communication leads to lots of dashed expectations. Imagine if you never read the Bible but were trying to live a Chrisitan life. How easy would that be? Never having heard God’s expectations, it would be pretty hard to manage. The same is true with our earthly relationships. We need to communicate expectations. I can’t expect my husband to give me extra help around the house during stressful times at work if I don’t communicate that need.

Third, we fail to set boundaries or parameters of the expectations. God’s mercy has no limits, but our connection with him through the Spirit can be impaired when we actively live in rebellion or disobedience of his expectations. When that connection is impaired, we suffer greatly. Similarly, in our earthly relationships, if we don’t set boundaries we cause unneeded strive with our loved ones. I’ll be honest, setting boundaries has always been difficult for me. Perhaps it is because I myself don’t care to have too many boundaries on my behavior. While my children are all grown, the days of needing to set boundaries are not that long ago. One of the areas I failed miserably to set a boundary was with helping to keep the house tidy and maintained. When I think back, nearly all of our arguments related to this, which resulted from a lack of boundaries being set on my part.

Finally, the most important expectation a Christian holds to is that of God’s promises and Christ’s return. When we keep Jesus Christ the focus of our lives and the source of our wisdom, our life becomes focused on the ultimate expectation, eternal life with our savior and creator. 

Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (ESV). God and his promises are one expectation that will always be fulfilled!

Contributed by Liz Hunt

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