…one way to starve relationships.
Jerry worked for an efficient but easy-going boss. Eight years of pleasure. When he got hired on at another company with a significant raise, he expected the new boss to bring the same atmosphere to the office. Wrong. It gave Jerry a less than remarkable outlook in his new position. Gratitude was replaced by low-level grumbling, something Jerry had not done for close to a decade. Didn’t endear him to his boss in the slightest.
His accountability partner helped him see the flawed thinking. He lowered his expectations—and the environment changed. Expectations suffocate gratitude, the fuel that causes relationships to get healthier. Gratitude makes us fun to be around, while expectations can give the feeling that we are being policed.
Marsha grew up in a healthy family—her new husband didn’t. She unconsciously expected that he would be like Dad. Truman felt the pressure—until a wise sister saint let Marsha know that lowering your expectations actually inspires faith, because we are putting our confidence where it belongs—in a God who always does “exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think.” Marsha gladly repented. It took many months to clear the air, but she’s never going back. Gratitude is growing and so is the marriage.
Engaged couples are surprised when I have them write down their expectations—then throw them away. Here’s a better idea: “My soul, hope thou only in God.” Joshua told the people as they prepared to take the land, “You know…that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled…” (Joshua 23:14). It makes sense to put our expectations upon God. He exceeds them consistently, unlike our spouse, our boss, or our parents.
Healthy people who understand grace do not transfer expectations from God to people. The prophet said, “Do not put your trust in princes, or in the son of man, in whom is no help.” That’s not much. People with expectations live with deferred hope—on a regular basis. They are always being let down. That changes when they adjust the focus of their hope.
Expectations impose unreal standards. You must meet my needs. Couples who live by expectations minimize grace, the component that releases power into the lives of others. It is the grace of God that allows us to overcome sin (Romans 6:14). The same power brings an atmosphere of freedom to a marriage—or to any relationship.
How about sitting down with your spouse or close friend and have a time of transferring expectations? Could change the environment quickly. And then do it for your boss, your pastor, the president, and anyone else that you are inclined to judge. What if you were challenged in all your relationships to shower people with grace—and you met the challenge?! (Truth is the other necessary component of healthy relationships, and it is administered with grace).
So do we live the same way with ourselves? Do we not set goals? What about the passion to succeed and the inner drive to excel? God-given. Faith in God always acts. It is not passive. It says something and it goes somewhere. Read Hebrews 11. By faith Noah built an ark. Not bad for 125 years of his life. A God-centered faith (weak in ourselves, strong in God) turns average people into mountain movers!