I cancelled all of my teaching responsibilities for today, Sunday, and Patty and I left at 5:30 am and drove to Naselle, Washington where my son-in-law was getting “Installed” as the senior pastor of the church he and Hannah have been serving at as Youth Pastor for the last 5 years. I got to pray for the church and Kyle and Hannah during the Installation service, and then Patty and I both were part of the Elders of the church and their wives as we gathered around them at the end of the service and laid hands on them and prayed God’s anointing on them. It was a very enjoyable day being part of their lives and the beginning of this new chapter in their lives. I felt very honored by Kyle when he asked me earlier this week to send Him my goals, and then today as we were getting ready to leave I was giving him a few quick pointers on becoming a good preacher, and I suggested that he listen to a couple of sermons every week by really good preachers, and he responded by saying that he listened to me almost every day, and I was the best! I don’t know for sure if he wasn’t just flattering his father-in-law, but it was very nice anyway. Patty and I both pray and intercede for our family asking God to use each of them for His glory, to open doors of opportunity for them, to anoint them in a special way with The Holy Spirit so that they bear much fruit, and that He would protect and guard them from the evil one. It was a wonderful day!
I believe that when I pray for people that God works in their life in response to my prayers, but I am not sure how or how much. I wish that it was huge, very quick, and very obvious. Then my faith in the power of prayer would grow very strong, but maybe that wouldn’t be faith. Hebrews 11 says that, “without faith it is impossible to please God”, and faith seems to be strongest when I can’t see it, feel it, hear it, or taste it. As Paul said, “we walk by faith not by sight”. This next week is a “Five Days of Prayer” event at Jefferson Baptist Church. We have 4 of them a year, and this particular one is for our drama event, “The Hobbit”. Each time we have a “Five Days of Prayer” event I am always disappointed in the turn out, I always wish more people had participated. I know that there are a lot of people who don’t participate because they really, down in the depth of their heart, don’t really believe that the time we spend praying is going to make all that much difference. I believe strongly that it makes a huge difference in people who don’t have a relationship with Jesus, so why do I believe and many others don’t? That is a puzzle, but I will keep praying that God works in their heart and gives them more faith in the words of the Bible. I do believe that I can influence people by praying for them. I also believe that it takes importunity in prayer for faith to be demonstrated so I will persevere.
One of my major guidelines in my goal setting each year is to set a goal to learn something new, and also to do something I have never done before. Those are part of the discipline of life of seeking Wisdom like gold, silver, and precious treasure which the book of Proverbs says will guarantee that I find it. As people we have the capacity to grow in wisdom. God created and designed all of creation by the wisdom that He has, and we are created in His image. Most people get to a level of adequacy in wisdom and then stop seeking more, they become a non-learner. They manage fine and the effort and discipline that it takes to learn more doesn’t appear to them to be worth the effort. When a person plateaus in wisdom growth they will stay there for awhile and then they will go backwards. There comes a point in the life of a person who has plateaued and then regressed when they are no longer capable of growing and becoming more and more wise, they are stuck. Proverbs 1:20-32 wisdom is speaking and says, “Wisdom shouts in the street, She lifts her voice in the square; At the head of the noisy streets she cries out; At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings: How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing, And fools hate knowledge? you neglected all my counsel, I will also laugh at your calamity; When distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently but they will not find me, Because they hated knowledge, And did not choose the fear of the Lord. They would not accept my counsel, So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way, And be satiated with their own devices. For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them.
So your wife expects that you will not be home later than 5:15 pm. Your husband expects that the house will always be perfectly clean, your boss expects that you will always work overtime, your parents expect a 4.0 grade point every semester, and on the list goes. Not all expectations are bad or oppressive, so decide which ones you can live with patiently without fussing about them, and then do that, that is be patient and don’t fuss, verbally or in your thoughts.
Where and when possible choose to “go the second mile”, that is choose to do more than what is expected, when you only do what is expected you are a prisoner, when you choose to do more than what is expected you are acting in freedom.
In the Old Testament Daniel was expected by his captors to eat food that was in violation of Jewish dietary laws. They had this expectation because they believed it was the healthiest food, and would make Daniel strong. Daniel graciously suggested a test where he would eat foods that were approved by the standards of the Laws of God in the book of Leviticus for a time and then the “boss” could check and see if Daniel was healthier or not. Gracious communication can often clear up expectations and what they are doing to you.
Sometimes you simply do what you believe is best and right and you trust God and take whatever displeasure is directed your way patiently without getting upset or defensive.
Yesterday I wrote about the disappointment we feel when others don’t measure up to our expectations of them, and what problems those expectations cause in our relationships if we don’t learn how to control them by giving them to God. But what about the expectations that others have of us. As we become aware of them they will create a growing pressure in us to please those with the expectations and conform to those expectations because of the displeasure they communicate to us when we disappoint. A major part of the problem is that we can’t succeed at pleasing them because we are only doing what is expected of us, and as we do succeed at meeting the expectations the bar is constantly being raised. Husbands and wives do this to each other without even thinking about it, parents do it to their kids in the name of good parenting, and bosses and supervisors do it in the name of successful business. These expectations which are seldom identified or acknowledged make us prisoners and jailers to each other in our relationships. An added problem is that we often have multiple people with expectations of our life, and they are different, one with this set, and another with a different set of expectations. Whooooeeeeee!! That is not a fun way to live. One way to deal with these expectations that others have of us is to simply rebel, throw a fit, let them know in no uncertain terms that we are not their slave. That method of escaping usually just destroys relationships, and hurts people.
Let me suggest half a dozen things to do when you find yourself in a jail that others have built around you one bar at a time, one expectation at a time, and you would really like to be free of this jail. First, acknowledge that your wife or whoever does have expectations of you that are unreasonable, dishonoring, and that you don’t like. Try to be as precise as possible in identifying them in your thinking. Don’t fret about them and make them bigger than they are. Expectations that others have of us are like a piece of sand in our shoe, they irritate and pretty soon it is all we can think about. Second remind yourself that they set these expectations without thinking about what they were doing, we all do it and we are seldom aware of it. If it isn’t a purposeful attempt to control your life it is harder to get upset and feel used and abused about it.
To be continued tomorrow
To be disappointed is to be sad or displeased because something or someone didn’t meet our expectations. Expectations are a super big problem in our life. Our expectations of others causes us to be upset at them, hurt by them, and grieved by them to the point that we often terminate our relationship with them officially or unofficially. When those who are close to us, family, friends, and work associates sense our expectations of them they will begin to feel trapped by those expectations, and they become increasingly wary of serving us for fear that they will add to the already long list of expectations. As a pastor I find myself formulating expectations of various people because of their maturity level, position, personal strengths, and their history. I also have expectations of my wife, Patty, my kids, son-in-laws, daughter-in-law, grandkids, and waitresses at restaurants, and on the list goes. If they fail to meet my expectations I get irritated in my thoughts and feelings, and can work up quite a mental tantrum. If I find myself in that place of being disappointed, I write out what my expectations of that person are, that is I type them on my Ipad, I then delete the list and write a prayer in place of the list of expectations, “Dear Lord, I give You these expectations, if You want to stir and motivate them to do these things that would be great, but I am going to trust You. I will counter the disappointment I feel by looking for an opportunity to serve them. Help me to do that, and not to have a wrong attitude when I do.” When I give all expectations of others to God everything they do after that is gravy, and I try to be very thankful towards them for what they do.