Saturday, March 5, 2011

Expectations

What is an expectation?

Let me just tell you...it is the act of expecting something; or the probability that something will occur.

Ever had expectations for anyone or anything?

Like maybe the cable man? Or the refrigerator repair man? "They will be there sometime between 8am and 12pm"--which, loosely translated means sometime between now and never. Right?

Isn't it true that many times what we expect of people is never what they give us? Is it because we set our bar of expectation too high? Too low?

I teach school. I see firsthand what expectations can do to a child.

Take a student who has always been a great student. He is well-rounded, smart, well-behaved, polite, kind, compassionate. We know this because for years before we get him we have heard about what a great student he is.

Now take a different student. Same grade. Same age. He is a trouble maker. He is mean, a bully, never completes his assignments, cannot be counted on to finish anything. We know this because we have been WARNED about him for years.

Now, let's say we mix them up at the beginning of the year. The awesome kid gets treated like the low achiever and vice versa. What do you think will happen? Will the low achiever rise to the challenge and the high achiever become a trouble maker?

Maybe. I have not really done this study so I cannot say definitively if that will happen.

The truth that I have come to know as a 15 year veteran of elementary school education is that students will rise to the occasion. If your behavioral expectation bar is set high, they will meet it. Same for the academics...if you look a child in the eye and tell them you believe in them, you will give them everything they need to be successful and then tell them that you expect them to achieve at _____________ level, they will.

Yes they will. I have seen it firsthand. Sure, I had to beat back some huge attempts by the student to talk themselves out of being able to reach the bar, but eventually they do.

On the same note, if we expect NOTHING from them, they will rise to that occasion too. Why? Because having someone else believe in you when you don't believe in yourself gives you the motivation to try harder.

So if we, as earthly beings can cause someone to achieve so much more than they ever thought they possibly could, why don't we trust God to help us reach His level of expectation?

We don't though. Or at least, I don't. I make all kinds of excuses as to why I can't live my life the way God wants me to. "It's too hard." "I am not good enough." "I am not cut out for ______." "They did this to me." "I am not as bad as they are!"

In reality, when I throw out excuses, I am saying that God is not big enough to change who I already am into who He wants me to be.

And it is at this point, Friday morning, that God took me back to my thoughts on expectations. What do I expect from God? Only condemnation? Only rebuking? Only disappointment? Why?

As I have grown up, I have become calloused. Parts of my heart have become hardened to the greatness of God's love, mercy, forgiveness and grace.

I need to look into the eyes of the children in my class and learn. They hang on my words, they believe what I tell them, they trust me. Why? Because I follow through. And slowly but surely, even the hardest child to reach begins to turn toward success.

I need the faith of a child.

"When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." Mark 10:14

They believe, because it is in their nature. AND, because their teacher is trustworthy.

My nature may be scarred but my God is the same yesterday, today and forever. I need to raise MY expectation of what God can do, because when He looks at me, He sees potential I don't even know I have. And if the God of the universe believes in ME, tell me who can stand against me?

Don't let life's disappointments dampen your belief of God and His power and might. Seek Him earnestly and you will find Him. When you start your search, remember to look with the eyes of a child.

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1 comment:

  1. Great job, Paige! That's great insight. I love your comparison between you and your students and God and us. Thanks for sharing! I hope I remember this lesson!

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