The Problem with Expectations

Here’s just an observation. I’m not sure people (in general) understand how to do “healthy” church. Let’s choose one trait to illustrate the point. Expectations run abound in most churches. Expectations aren’t necessarily bad; they are necessary. The problem occurs when there is a failure to communicate and negotiate the organizational or group expectations.

Let’s say you take on a job a church. If your church is typical, there’s probably not a training manual or a job description for your new volunteer position. Therefore, you enter into service with a set of self-developed expectations. Most likely, there’s at least one other person in the organization who has a differing set of expectations than yours. The problem arises when uncommunicated expectations clash.

So here are some thoughts:

Don’t assume everyone “knows” or even thinks the way you think. In my experience, people don’t often know. Just as everyone has a nose, so everyone has an opinion. People choose to attack tasks from different directions and game plans.

Take the time to communicate your expectations. While this is time consuming and sometimes laborious, it helps others to know what you think and expect. People need to know your process.

Don’t be surprised if you must negotiate or even re-negotiate your expectations. Your expectations could be unrealistic or even inappropriate. By communicating them with others, it’s an opportunities for realistic feedback. Healthy expectations are often negotiated expectations.

Don’t give up on the group. Navigating volunteer organizations are like herding cats. It’s often a tough and complicated job.