Monday, March 19, 2012

When Expectation Meets Reality

As many times as I have tried to introduce these strangers called, "expectation" and "reality," they never seem to get along.

I have the privilege of coaching some church planters as well as doing life with pastor friends of mine. Somewhere along the line this conversation happens, "I thought we would have been a lot further along by now." This pertains to the number of people attending the church, finances or leadership.

When someone is preparing for ministry, things are pretty linear. There is a starting point and finishing point. The prime example is going to school. You have assignments and success is pretty easy to calculate with those assignments. You work toward a goal and achieve it through grades. You also are interacting with professors and students who, for the most part, think logically.

The hard part is when you leave the linear, logical method of expectation meeting reality and come to a place where you are playing a new game. Goals may be met or not. People may interact logically or not. There are no graded papers to tell you how you are doing. There is no "finish" line in site. This can apply to marriage, a job and ministry. Most people during this transition begin to experience depression and loss of focus. The main reason is because their dreams/expectations of something does not match the reality they are facing.

A marriage is a great example. I have seen dear friends experience divorce. I guarantee that one part that led to the divorce was their expectations did not meet reality. There are arguments. There are dishes. There are bills. There are bad days and good days. It is not a walk in the park. Working at a job is similar. The interview goes great. They really NEED someone like you to help their company. You discuss the salary package, sign the contract and the company is elated to have you as their new employee. About six months into it you find out that expectations don't meet reality. You are not appreciated as much as you thought you would be. You work longer hours than expected and you are not the great savior or asset you thought you would be.

A good example from Scripture is when the disciples were in the middle of a lake and a storm arose. They had left the shoreline under Jesus' command. They weren't at the shore anymore, but hadn't reached their destination either. They were in the middle of two realities. In the middle is where the storm arose. That is what happens with us as well. I don't think they expected a storm to rise up in their journey. The great news is that Jesus showed up in the middle of that storm.

This week you have probably said to yourself, "Man, in the beginning, I thought we would be a lot further along right now and not fighting the same battles." Be encouraged. You launched out at Jesus' call. You are not where you used to be. You have made progress. You are on route (even in the storm) to the destination. And realize that Jesus is in the boat with you. Be content with how far you have come and be courageous on moving forward.

In life, expectation hardly ever, IF EVER, meets reality. We are all thinking the same thing. We are all going through it. Today, take some quiet time and invite Jesus into the boat with you. He is with you on the journey and in the storm.

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