The Unnecessary Pressures of Useless Expectations

Someone once asked me, “Why are pastors’ kids so crazy?”

I simply responded, “And the rest of humanity isn’t?” pointing out the fact there’s nothing unique about a young child or adolescent being rebellious, or experimenting, or wandering, or pushing his boundaries. It may many times not be right but it’s not unique at all.

How can something so normal to people that we expect it during that period be so surprising when an equally-human pastor’s kid goes through it? What makes that case so different?

I posed this question to another person, an older person, and he told me, “Well you’re supposed to know better.” as if “knowing” was all it took do the right thing. Didn’t Jesus say something about demons knowing about God to underscore that information isn’t enough? How many “know-it-alls” do we know who cannot execute on what they know? Quite a lot. I responded to him, “When you were younger, weren’t you taught certain things were bad and certain things were good?” He said, “Yes.” I followed this up with, “But you didn’t always do what was right and I’m sure you did a lot of the stuff you knew was wrong?” He nodded, knowing where I was going. “How can you say that someone who was informed of the do’s and don’ts, as you were, and does the wrong things anyway is any different from a pastor’s kid who also makes mistakes?”

In my opinion, the only thing different is the expectation placed on a pastor’s kid. He doesn’t come from divine stock that prevents him from making mistakes or gives special temptation fighting skills other than what’s available to everyone, which starts when we encounter Jesus. So a child who is surrounded by all the trappings of church but has not encountered Jesus in a personally meaningful way is no more enabled to live righteously than anyone else.

Just as I believe it’s wrong to expect that teenagers will automatically go nuts and be aimless, I find it illogical to expect pastors’ kids NOT to face similar challenges and NEVER fail. Proof of how common this is is how we’re so surprised when a pastors kid falls. “He did that? But he’s a pastors kid.” “He shot himself? But he’s a pastors kid.””He dropped out? But he’s a pastors kid.” I can give more examples.

To expect Michael Jordan’s kid to live up to his achievements is crazy, and physical traits are hereditary, to expect a pastors kid to live according to perfect moral standards is even crazier. Not even pastors themselves are perfect. Why are we so surprised when a pastor or his children are imperfect when we already know that humans are FAR from perfect? I’m actually more wary when a leader is too perfect – because that just means there’s something I don’t know or he’s not human.

There’s nothing really special about this. Just another case of the unnecessary pressures of useless expectations.

Another funny thing about expectations is that they’re many times accompanied with double standards. I was discussing with a few people about the idea of divorce and specific cases I believed were grounds for it, such as adultery and physical abuse, and they kept arguing back, “You can’t say that. God hates divorce. What God has united let no man break apart.” I gave them other scripture-backed points on my perspective which I won’t discuss here because that’s not the point of this section and I believe divorce is a terrible thing to undergo and deserves more explaining than merely saying its “good or bad” because there are serious consequences, but what I want to highlight is the idea of double standards, because after all the back and forth, I asked a simple question, “If your daughter’s future husband cheats on her or physically abuses her, would you, in good conscience, really tell her to continue to submit to her husband because that’s God’s will for her?”

They were silent.

It’s so easy to say “You, over there, don’t do that, you should do this!” but it’s also so common for us to face the same situation and act the opposite way when we’re in that position.

I ended that discussion by saying, “Before responding to someone else’s situation with your expectations show understanding – which means actually understanding the context and facts of the situation before pronouncing what should and shouldn’t happen. If you’re not in a position to do that or unwilling then you’re better of not adding pressure from your useless expectations that aren’t contributing to a healthy conclusion.” This is something I’ve learned the hard way by being so prone to jumping to conclusions based on my biases.

I have to prepare for a meeting and will continue this later.

I’ll share more thoughts on useless wedding expectations, useless marriage expectations, and useless leadership expectations.

Right Expectations

Having no expectations is the fast track to low standards. Having unrealistic expectations is the fast track to disappointment. Having the right expectations is crucial to success. Here are some right expectations for young people:

1. Expect to be disappointed. We’ve been fed too much superstition.

2. Expect success to be difficult. Success is the achievement of one’s goals. I cannot say I’m a success and I’m quick to correct anyone who says so. I’m still on the path of chasing set goals. Along this path are difficulties, not simply because there are conditions in the way, but mostly because my internal conditions, my character and abilities, need to improve to give me the capability to reach and handle success and the credibility to earn it.

3. Expect to fight. Life has many battles. So be strong. Be disciplined. Be wise. Be connected. Be prepared. Be brave. Don’t be a baby. It’s not the idea you liked that will transform. It’s the idea you lived out and fought for.

4. Don’t expect life to be fair. It’s not. At least it will seem that way. It seems that way because we all have this funny weighing scale that judges the fairness of life based on whether we got what we feel we should get. So more than complaining about how unfair life is, go do something about your situation.

5. Don’t expect all your prayers to be answered the way you think they should be. Expect prayer to change you. An answered prayer looks more like a transformed heart than an answered prayer. I’ve been praying all my life. I can say that most of the things I asked for haven’t been answered. Does that make God bad? No. More than a wish granter, it’s more important to Him that my heart is made right than my lifestyle becomes comfortable.

6. Expect to feel like you’re doing more than others. Maybe you are maybe you’re not. It doesn’t matter. Focus on getting good at what you’re supposed to and surround yourself with people who do the same. Even as bad company can hurt you, good company can give you a huge boost. Many times we identify “good company” as those who make us feel best about ourselves. Could it be they’re the reason why you have so many unmet goals? If life were a basketball game, it’s the best team who wins not the best cheerleaders.

Whenever you feel like your life is hard and other people have it easy or better or are luckier, remember that this is not logical at all and can be easily disproven by statistics and an understanding of how life works. This kind of thinking is called entitlement, and you should guard him more than anything. He has a way of taking good things and turning them into a “right” instead of going the path of humility and discipline that tells you, “You want that? You can have it. So go out there and fight.”