#5: be clear about expectations. We all have expectations. We expect our food to be prepared at a fast food restaurant to be...fast. We have expectations about other people, whether they know it or not. Most of our expectations come from our upbringing, circumstances and memories. People who have been hurt in the past will have certain expectations towards those in the future. The same is true for those who have had everything on a "silver plate." Expectations come with every human being. The key is communicating, understanding and responding to expectations! Ask every married person and they will tell you that they entered their marriage with expectations. Usually people do not even realize their expectations until they are uncovered through being stretched in the relationship. In the same way, when I first entered ministry, I had expectations. Some expectations I knew I had and others were uncovered. What many of those in ministry face right out of Bible college or seminary is the lack of understanding of church ministry.
For example, One young guy wants a church to start his ministry. He has high expectations of a mentoring relationship with his new boss and staff. What he doesn't realize is there are unclear expectations of his job. He just wants to love God and love students. He takes the job without asking questions about philosophy of ministry, financials, expectations of church and their directions. But what he quickly realizes is that the church runs more like a business than a ministry (nothing like summer camp!). He becomes overcome with the stress of measuring up to everyone. He loses interest over time in taking time with each student because he needs to make sure everyone is counted. He begins to look back and wonder where his passion left that he had back when he was a camp counselor? So he is left wondering why it is not at all what he expected?
Expect pastors and staff to be human. In other words, they are not perfect! I know this is not a life changing statement, but many forget this in ministry. They will let you down, upset you and make decisions you do not agree with. Most struggles in ministry arise out of expecting other people to be a certain way we design in our minds. Grace must fit into our relationship with those we work and serve alongside. Why? Because I hope they will return the favor to me because I will always need it when I make mistakes.
Expect grace to be enough. People will hurt you. It is simple as that. Some will stick with you and support you and others will not. We have two choices. We make our career about "our" ministry or about the ministry of the gospel. Apply grace liberally. Peace comes when we decide that we are living for an audience of one. Life is too short to try to make everyone happy. But if we are striving after Christ, we will honor and encourage those we minister too.
Expect God to provide. Financial needs arise, especially for those of us in youth ministry. Long hours with unclear expectations from multiple parents can consume us. The pain of seeing people reject the gospel or make harmful decisions to themselves can be overwhelming. What many do not understand is that with the stress of ministry, usually the financial stress at home only compounds the pressure. Is it easy? Not always. But every time I have had need, God has provided.
Expect that God is never done with you. God will finish the work He wants us to finish. Keep your eyes focused upon what is most important. Make disciples!
"...That he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6
What expectations did you have when you entered ministry? How do you manage those expectations?