Trying to live within the expectations of others can be a gut-wrenching and soul- crushing experience. Even the expectations of well-meaning people who love us can bring us frustration as we try to achieve a goal that we may have no true desire to achieve. The expectation is the proverbial carrot that is always dangled in front of us. Or maybe we live based on the expectation of a family name, a level of wealth, an occupation, or a certain degree of education. Maybe the opposite is true for you. Maybe the expectations were set low for you because of the family name, poverty, lack of education or even your gender or skin color. If we live our lives based on the expectations of others and not God’s expectations, we will live our lives as typecast actors and actresses who cannot break free from a famous role.
Let me state that we should always hope for the best in those we love and know. We should always encourage others to pursue excellence. We should also follow the Bible’s guidelines for living and the laws of society. However, we should never compare people in our lives to someone else. There is a saying that goes, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”God created everybody to be unique and He has instilled different gifts and talents within each of us. Thus, we should never say, “Why can’t you be like so and so?” nor should we try to live out our dreams or unfulfilled dreams vicariously through someone else.
One person in Scripture who overcame the stigma of negative expectations was David. First Samuel chapter 16 tells the story of how David was anointed king. Because of his continued disobedience, God reject King Saul and sent Samuel to the house of Jesse to anoint the next king. Jesse brought out seven of his sons and God rejected them all. At this point, Samuel had to be wondering about why God sent him to Jesse’s house, but God had someone else in mind.
“And Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Are all the young men here?’ Then he said, ‘There remains yet the youngest, and there he is keeping the sheep.’ And Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.’ So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes and good-looking. And the Lord said, ‘Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah.” (1 Samuel 16:11-13, NKJV).
What kind of expectations did Jesse truly have for David? Jesse for whatever reason did not see David as worthy as his brothers and gave him the job of tending sheep, which a hired hand could do. Jesse did not even think to include David when Samuel asked to see his sons. I believe that deep down David knew he was more than a shepherd, while Jesse’s expectation for David did not seem to go beyond being a shepherd. However, Scripture shows us that David was a man of many talents- musician, writer, warrior, a natural leader, a giant killer, and a king.
I believe that everyone has talents. Our talents are unique to us. There are obvious talents that God gives us and other talents we have to draw out as we seek Him. We should not allow ourselves to be limited by the expectation of others, for our talents and dreams come from the Lord. When we breathe our last breath, we will stand before God alone and give an account for the talents He gave us (Matthew 25). We must seek God’s expectation and not be bound by the expectation of man. As long as we have today, it is not too late. We serve a God of infinite resources, why look to people who have limited resources? God has blessed us and wants us to use our blessings for others and to bring Him glory in whatever we do.
“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17, NKJV).
“There is nothing better for a man, than that that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy in his labor. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.” (Ecclesiastes 2:24, KJV).
“Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; For God has already accepted your works. Let your garments always be white, and let your head lack no oil. Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 9:7-10, NKJV).
If you believe God has called you to something greater than what you are currently doing, I urge you to pray and fast about it. As we step out of our comfort zones, expect to face opposition and expect a little fear, but know that we serve a mighty God. C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” Remember God has the final word and as long as we have breath, He is not through with us. God bless you all.