One constant in life is that people are disappointing. People don’t live up to our expectations of behavior.
Of course our expectations of behavior are probably messed up – but let’s assume for one second that your expectations of behavior are Biblical.
So we’re not talking about your expecting them to solve the Middle East crisis or find a cure for cancer, or to win the war against the machines – but expecting them to have realistic, Biblical expectations.
Like you can expect your kids to obey their parents, or your spouse to treat you with love and kindness.
We can and should expect those we have relationships with to abide by those Biblical principles.
But the thing is expectation isn’t enough.
We are here to minister to them. Which means that we want to help them grow. We want them to meet Biblical expectations more and more every day.
And they’re not going to do it if we just let them be sinful without doing something. But how do we look at this issue?
The easiest way to look at this is with children.
When you first are dealing with children, you have to lower your expectations of them to practically nothing. If they share their toys once, it’s a big deal, if they clean up half their toys, it’s a big deal, when they poop in the potty once, it’s a big deal.
How many times do people dance when you poop in the potty? Because, man, if that were the case, there’d be a party in my house right now. Actually, it’d be the second party of the day.
If a third grader gets a A- on a simple arithmetic test, we’re happy. If they get a F on a calculus test, we wouldn’t be upset because that would be ridiculous.
While that sounds easy enough, that’s totally not how we treat people. Because we think they should know better. We have higher expectations for them. But are they realistic?
Let’s say you get yelled at by your spouse for inadvertently leaving dishes out.
It would be quite easy to get upset back because they didn’t meet your expectation of patience, love and gentleness.
But what you have to consider is, what spiritual grade are they in?
As someone who is supposed to minister to them, have you figured out how ‘old’ they are? What grade they are in? Have you figured out how to minister to them?
Furthermore, can you add up all the times they were patient or impatient with you during the entire past week and say, “They get a B-“ for the week?
…Or is every single event a pass/fail with you?
Yes, our kids should know better than to leave that stupid foyer light on. The thing is we only notice if they’ve left it on. We never say, good job for turning off the light because it’s supposed to be off. But if they left it on, we say, “FAIL! You didn’t turn off that light.”
When do we ever keep track of when people don’t fail?
If someone is patient with you nine times for leaving out your dishes, it’s not like we keep track of that. But if they get upset at you once, you go, “FAIL! You get an “F” for being impatient.” But if you add up all the times you left out the dishes, they actually got a 90% for patience, which is an “A”.
That’s the problem with us.
We treat each event as a separate test. We aren’t looking at the growth aspect. We’re not looking at the overall grade for the year. We’re not taking into account all the times that were good.
Humans have selective memory. They remember stuff that annoys them, but don’t remember when things go well. I mean, why would you remember the hundred meals where everyone was nice and did their chores? They’re supposed to do that.
You would only remember a meal if something bad happened, like everyone was yelling at each other.
So what should we do?
Remember… it’s about ministry. You have a responsibility to help others grow. And that means being realistic, observant and purposeful about how you treat them.
How do they disappoint you? Is it realistic? Overall, what grade are they getting? Are they growing or regressing?
And most importantly…
…what things are you putting into place to help them overcome it?
So if someone has any ideas how I can help my family overcome watching Full House every single stinkin’ day, I’m open for suggestions.
PHP 2:1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,  then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Take Time To Pray: Ask God to help you show the same grace to others as He has shown to you. Also, ask for wisdom on how you can help those closest to you grow more pleasing to God.
Today’s Fruit of the Spirit: Gentleness.