Discouragement must be one of Satan’s primary tools. By generating discouragement in the hearts of Christians he effectively places them on the bench in the great contest between Satan and God. Here’s an antidote for it.
Do Your Expectations Have You Discouraged?
By Dave Kahle
Did you ever have an experience like this? You set out on some new activity energized by the exciting expectations of the good things that will result? You may have begun a vacation, visited a relative, hired a new employee, taken on a new project, or launched a new product. Your mind naturally thinks about the result and creates expectations: The vacation is going to be glorious; the visit will be fun and fulfilling, the new employee will immediately contribute, etc.
And then, alas, the expectations weren’t fulfilled, the actual results weren’t up to your expectations, and you end up discouraged.
And because you are discouraged, you question your value. “Do you really have the talent to make something like this happen,” you wonder. You cast a shadow over your relationship with God. “Does He even know I’m here. How could He let this happen?” Your energy and creativity wither and you spend some time sitting on the sidelines of the next opportunity.
Discouragement must be one of Satan’s primary tools. By generating discouragement in the hearts of Christians he effectively places them on the bench in the great contest between Satan and God. It like soccer – bench a couple of your best players and the team is less likely to win.
When we distance ourselves a bit from the process and look at the big picture, it’s clear that the problem wasn’t the results we experienced, but rather the difference between those results and our expectations. Since the gap between reality and our expectations was so great, we filled it with self-doubt and discouragement.
It is easy to view every initiative through the lens of high expectations. The world is full of advice to create high expectations. Every team wants to become the champion. Every entrepreneur dreams of making millions. The idea that we should create lofty expectations goals as a precursor to significant achievement is ubiquitous. It is so deeply embedded in our culture that to question it is to make you feel like a heretic. Create high expectations and then work to achieve them. — that’s the way progress is made and success is realized. It has become part of the common wisdom, so universally acknowledged that only the ignorant would ever doubt it.
Maybe the solution then is to be a bit more thoughtful about our expectations. Don’t do away with them, just lower them a bit. Then we’ve reduced the likelihood of the ultimate discouragement coming from not meeting high expectations. Lowering our expectations looks like a simple solution.
But is it? What if there were another solution?
The problem with lowering our expectations is that those expectations come from the same source – ourselves. In defining our expectations, we reach into our heads and hearts and generate a vision of what could be. The source is us.
But what if we tapped into another source? Instead of us deciding what we’d like to have happen, we deferred to God?
What if, instead of thinking, “I want to begin this new thing and achieve these results” we begin with “Lord, show me what to do and I will trust you with the results.”
In other words, we began a new effort, not because we wanted the end results, but because we were being obedient to God. What if we didn’t even think about expectations, instead we left the results up to Him. That would require a whole new paradigm and a major step of the ladder of spiritual development.
And that bring us to a new term: Expectancy instead of expectations. The thesaurus lists ”hope,” “belief,” and “anticipation” as synonyms. The idea is this: Because the source of the idea is God, we anticipate a greater good to come from the effort than anything we could have expected. We believe God is in control, we hope for a great outcome and we eagerly await the revelation of the results.
He did say, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.”
If we stopped ‘leaning on our own understanding” and instead incorporated “trust in the Lord” into our routines, we wouldn’t create high expectations, nor any expectations at all. Our actions may be just the same, but the core motivation would be different. Instead of thinking we are in charge, steering our vessels down the paths we chose to the outcomes that attract us, we would now be motivated by doing God’s bidding in the worlds we occupy. This transformation of heart and motivations would mark a significant step on our spiritual journeys.
We’d cut discouragement off at its base. We’d eliminate discouragement from germinating in our hearts, and we’d be 100% able-bodied and equipped for every challenge, ready to be thrust into the starting lineup of every contest.
All because we substituted expectancy for high expectations.
Note: Article inspiration came from my good friend, Deb Brown Maher, author of Sell Like Jesus: 7 Characteristics of Christ for Ethical Sales.