[bl]I[/bl] made the statement in my last post that lowering expectations is essential to being and creating environments of grace. I want to be clear what I mean by this.
I believe expectations create disappointment and failure. Whether you place them upon yourself or others, expectations foster an environment of pressure that often leads to unmet goals and discouragement in the reality.
But a friend raises the question How do we reconcile becoming more like Christ – becoming holy as he is holy – with lowering expectations in order to be more gracious?
Christians are called to strive toward holiness. To live in a way that sets us apart from the world, in a way that reflects Christ — which sure seems like a high expectation!
When I propose that we lower expectations, I am not proposing that we lower the standard of who we are called to be. Nor am I asking you to join the trend in mediocrity and accepting all behavior.
Rather, I am referring to lowering – even abandoning – the expectations placed before us by our culture. The ones that say our houses must look perfect, our bodies must be thin. The ones that say men have to work over forty hours a week in order to be considered hard working. The ones that say you’re responsible if you act this way and make these choices. The ones that say your children should look and behave and learn in certain ways. The expectations I’m talking about are the ones that don’t leave room for error, for mistakes, for failure. The ones that don’t appreciate a journey, only the destination. The ones that don’t applaud completion, because they are too busy noticing and criticizing the flaws.
Because when we live in these types of expectations, in these types of environments, we will not become our best person. We will become the person other people think we should be. And then we will resent who we are.
Environments of grace don’t expect, they empower.
They empower people to grow. They empower people to change, to work harder, to set goals, to have hope. Do you see the difference?
To expect is to insist a particular outcome. To empower is to encourage a discerned outcome. Expectations are placed on people. Empowerment is a mutual effort. Expectations lead to judgment. Empowerment fosters a spirit of grace.
There are few things we ought to expect, in which to place our hope. We can expect God to be faithful. We can hope for his promises. We can be certain that love and truth will be victorious.
But in relationships between one another, let us work toward empowerment, toward encouragement. And as we consider who we are called to be as children of God and the body of Christ, let us hope together in the ways God will bring about redemption in and through us. It’s not a process that happens to us. It’s a mission that we participate in, join him in, join each other in.
This becoming like Christ is not a high expectation. It’s a calling and responsibility toward holiness, and only when we empower each other in this journey, will we cross over together into new and promised lands of freedom in Christ. And in these promised lands, we will delight in the fruit of our journey and we will feast on affirmation from God, rather than praises and acknowledgment of men.