One of the wrestles I’ve had for as long as I can remember is feeling the weight of the expectations of others. I think this is in large part of growing up as a pastors kid and feeling like people’s eyes were on me and expected certain things from me because I was the son of a pastor.
My upbringing was a blessing and I have so much to give God glory for but I took people’s expectations to heart and allowed too much of what people thought about me to shape how I would act or how I felt about myself. This is dangerous and unhealthy.
One of my great friends and mentors ‘Mike Grechko’ shared with me a great insight into expectations: He shared that there are 3 basic levels of expectations:
- The perceived and realistic expectations you have of yourself
- The perceived and realistic expectations people have of you
- The perceived and realistic expectations God has of you
Unfortunately, too many of us operate out of a false perception of the expectations people have of us, rather than addressing what it is that firstly God expects of us. Trying to meet the demands of false expectations is to place a pressure on oneself that is too heavy to bare.
When it comes to the senior leadership of a local church, I’ve found that you will never do enough or be enough to meet all the expectations of the people around you. What I’ve had to do is come back to my own sense of calling in my relationship with God and understand what God requires of me and by his grace, work towards fulfilling what’s in his heart.
To be honest, my biggest battle with expectations has been those I’ve had of myself. I’ve often thought, it would be great to be a machine that didn’t have to be concerned with sleep or daily rudimentary tasks and could just keep churning out wanted results. I’ve always had larger than life dreams and bigger expectations of myself than I could meet on any given day. God has taken me on a journey of peeling back the reasons and motivations for this drive and helped me to embrace Gods unforced rhythms of grace in every aspect of my life.
This has been a hard battle and one which I still engage in daily, but inch by inch I’m growing in my love for and awareness of my frailty and weakness as a human being, knowing that, while I don’t want to acknowledge it, Gods strength is made perfect in my weakness. I don’t use this as an excuse for status-quo living and in-activity. God has given you and I capacity for certain things and we are to steward our resources in such a way that we maximize the grace each of us has received. But we are not machines, we are humans created in the image of God with real feelings and real limits. There is only so much we can do in response to the expectations of people and we eventually have to leave it in God’s hands.
I encourage you to not operate out of a sense of false or perceived expectations but get under the surface and actually understand what it is that is expected of you in your role and relationships. Ask the hard questions. Evaluate those expectations in light of what God has called you to do and what he has revealed in his word. Put some boundaries in place if needed and build your identity on Christ, rather than on the opinions of others. You will be better of for it and your relationships with others will be too. Read Matthew 11:28-30 for some good spiritual medicine for your soul.