Exploited by Expectations
Every morning we wake up with certain expectations placed on us. We are expected to go to work, get kids ready and off to school and be present in our relationships. Today alone, I will be expected to make meals for my family, spend quality time with my husband, care for my son, do the laundry, wash the dishes, try to find a job to replace the one I suddenly lost in March, check in on my family and friends, respond to emails, take my son to swimming lessons and then try to settle him enough to take a nap so I can check off a few more things on my list. Each day looks similar, with certain expectations placed on me by others in my life, or sometimes with expectations that I place on myself.
Everyone expects certain things from us. We are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, employees, employers, students and friends. We try to live up to all of the expectations that society has placed on us, but the reality is that we just can’t. Every day it is presumed we will give more and more of ourselves to meet the ever growing expectations placed on us. But so often all of the things we are expected to do become a burden and make us exhausted and resentful, grumbling because it is simply not possible to meet all of the demands. God desires that we be servants to one another. Galatians 5:13 tells us that we are to “serve one another humbly in love.” But in being servants, he wants our heart attitudes to be about the interests of others and not our own selfish ambition. All of the things we do day to day should not lead to grumbling or resentment, but it often does. Rather, the things that you commit to in this world should bring everlasting fruit to God’s kingdom because your attitude is that of humility and selflessness. Christ tells us to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:3-5). God expects us to lead a selfless life, in the imitation of Jesus. But, the selflessness Christ speaks of requires more than putting other people ahead of yourself. It necessitates putting God first, before everything. John the Baptist said it beautifully; “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). More. Of. God.Here is a small exercise. Take a mason jar and add a walnut to it. Then fill the rest of the jar with some rice. Take a second mason jar of the same size and pour the rice from the first jar to the second, then add the walnut. When stacked this way, the walnut will not fit. The walnut in this illustration is analogous to God and the rice is analogous to everything else in our lives (important and not so important things). If we put God first, everything else fits. If we meet God’s expectations first, all of the expectations of people will be met as well. God expects a selfless life. He expects us to be just and forgiving, but above all to walk humbly with Him (Micah 6:8). To lead a selfless life with the right attitude we must put Him first. It really comes down to this: Are you more concerned with meeting the world’s expectations than you are about meeting God’s expectations? Are you putting Him first, walking in humility beside Him and relying on Him to help lead you to a selfless life, one that is just and forgiving?
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”