One of the things I’ve learned is that unmet or unrealistic expectations hurt and often kill relationships. When we’re in any kind of relationship, we automatically create our expectations from the other party and the relationship. If we never communicate those to them, or clarify what we think are their expectations, we will end up disappointed and confused. It’s a shame that so many relationships go south because of this, and worse that we blame the other party for the problem because they didn’t do what we expected them to do, but never clearly told them. If these misfires happen in inter-human relationships, how much more do they happen between God and us.
There are times where I’ve been so sure I’ve heard from God, but I assumed and expected it would happen a certain way. When it doesn’t happen that way, I get frustrated with God and often do something that is not in His plan. Think of Moses. Even though God told him that Pharaoh wouldn’t let Israel go without being forced to, he thought it would happen differently. When it didn’t happen according to Moses’ plan, and things got bad, he got mad and questioned God in Exodus 5:22-23. He said to God, “My Master, why are you treating this people so badly? And why did you ever send me? From the moment I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, things have only gotten worse for this people. And rescue? Does this look like rescue to you?” (MSG)
If things in your life or ministry aren’t happening the way you thought they should after you clearly heard God, hold on. He is at work in you and in the situation. We know that He works ALL things together for our good. Your frustration is simply your unmet expectation of what you thought God was going to do. Go back to God in prayer, submit to His plan and for Him to do things His way. Ask Him to help you see His plan so you understand what He’s doing, how He’s doing it and why. He may not give you those answers, but as one who speaks from experience, the sooner you submit to His plan and His way of accomplishing it, the better off you’ll be.
Photo by AZGAN MjESHTRI on Unsplash
I always thought I was a person who had been faithful in the little things until I read the final chapter in “Good to Great in God’s Eyes” by Chip Ingram. The last chapter is about developing great habits and in it he lists six great habits to adopt. One of which is “Do your own dishes – The principle of responsibility”. He wrote about putting up your folded clothes instead of leaving them out, washing your dishes instead of putting them in the sink and putting your dirty clothes in the hamper instead of on the floor. Each one hit home because I’m guilty of all of them.
If that wasn’t enough, he then wrote, “We usually don’t make a conscious decision to expect others to clean up our messes. It’s a habit. But behind that habit is an assumption that it’s up to someone else to make our life work.” Subconsciously we leave things out, put dishes in the sink and throw our clothes on the floor in hopes that someone else will do it. When they don’t do it, we get exasperated and huff and puff while we have to do it. Am I the only one like this?
These small examples are part of a bigger problem. The attitude of expecting others to make our life work bleeds into our spiritual life too. We expect our pastor to be in charge of our spiritual growth. We expect them to read the scripture to us instead of looking it up ourselves. We get upset when we don’t get anything out of the service, yet we put nothing into it. All of these are “little” things, but they prove to God that He can’t trust us with the big things. We can’t grow because we don’t have any roots.
Zig Ziegler once said, “If you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.” There are so many little things in our lives that we’ve left undone. When they become big things, we wonder where God is in our mess. We expect Him or someone else to come save us because we’ve come to expect others to clean up our messes. We are the ones who made them, yet we feel it is God’s responsibility to clean them up. Then, when it’s not cleaned up immediately, we get upset with God for not answering.
Our messes are our own responsibility. We create them because we haven’t learned to be faithful in the little things. Today, look at your life to see what little things need your attention. If you’re in a big mess, trace it back and you will see that it started with something little. Once we learn to do the menial tasks, God can trust us with more important tasks. I know I still have lots to work on in this area myself. I can’t expect God to do more through me than He’s doing right now until I learn to take care of the tasks I thought didn’t matter.