Ministry Inside.76

Expectations are everything!

So what do you expect?

This is a huge issue for many ministers. Far too many of us have very unrealistic expectations of ourselves, our work, and the congregations we serve.

At this point, someone might want to quickly interject, “But I think we ought to have high standards. Isn’t the bar already very low?” OK. Good point.

Yet, I want to suggest that we make assumptions and then move toward unrealistic expectations. These assumptions and expectations might include:

  • If I work very, very hard, people will appreciate me and know I am competent and worthwhile.
  • If I do a good job with my ministry, the key leaders in my congregation will certainly support and affirm me.
  • If I just explain and prove to my key leaders what we need to do as a church, they will see that this is obviously the approach that ought to be taken.
  • If I am competent and skilled, the congregation I serve will grow and we will experience few problems.

Maybe some of us have expectations of ourselves and others that are far too high, while our expectations of God are far too low.

Does any of this sound familiar? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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6 thoughts on “Ministry Inside.76

  1. One of the difficult learning lessons in ministry was that congregational ministry is not like many work places where one can issue instructions, make decisions, etc… and expect them to either be carried out with competency or expect to replace individuals with other individuals who will carry out the goals. Once this was realized, it changed how I went about ministry and not being disappointed if my expectation did not pan out as I envisioned.

    • Rex, I think that is an adjustment many of us had to make. I certainly had to. You are right, congregational ministry is certainly not like many workplaces that many of us have experienced.

  2. Lately I’m wondering whether I have unrealistically expected that if we proclaim and practice the Gospel just right, the need for repentance, confession and forgiveness will subside because we will have gotten ourselves straightened out. This is beginning to strike me as ironic. (Duh!) But I think we do a lot to avoid these hard things. (“…the best way to avoid Jesus is to avoid sin…” -Flannery O’Connor) I think I’m beginning to realize that the need for repentance, confession and forgiveness is ongoing, and is actually part of the Gospel – imagine that! Thank God that He understands, allows for and expects the need for repentance, confession and forgiveness among His people! If and when I come to terms with that, maybe I won’t keep fighting it so hard (by trying to come across as competent, confident and “all that”; and expecting people to always do what I think they should do) and I won’t be so weary.

    • Darryl, I think you’ve come to a much more realistic view of church. Church as mess!

      Most of us (I certainly have) have spent a lot of energy trying to get it right. Message. Doctrine. Practice. Probably some of that desire comes from our DNA as a movement. (Surely we can find a way to get it all right while we compare ourselves with those groups who in our estimation do not get it right.)

      Unfortunately, I think that has often led to arrogance among our members and frustration among our leaders. (Leaders frustrated because they think that if only we could get the right pieces in place, our church would have great results.)

      Maybe what we are left with is the realization that we have no control over the kingdom of God. That what appears to be a mess is actually a place where the Spirit of God is at work and people are learning to follow Jesus.

  3. too true! So easily to slip into this mindset and approach life with a “If I _____, then they/ God will______” formula. Thanks for the reminder!

    • I like the way you express this, Margaret. You are right, it is very easy to slip into this mindset. I am glad that in your comment you remind us that we can also use use this formula with God as well.

      Great to hear from you, Margaret.