Managing Expectations

When I was managing a training team several years ago the one thing we stressed to our new hires was to manage our customer’s expectations. Tell them proper pricing, proper deliver times, proper use of coupons or discounts, etc. When you manage customer’s expectations it is then easy to exceed that mark.

My particular belief system know incorporates that idea, specifically in relationship to God. Not so much what His expectations are of me, rather my expectations of Him.

In a recent online newsletter from Christianity Today, there were a series of articles about God’s word and applying it to our lives. In that series there is a story from Shaun Alexander, running back for the Seattle Seahawks. In the articles he talks about he and his family’s struggle to stay in Seattle and purchasing a home there. To sum up the article, he and his wife write down a set of criteria for the house they want and the price they want to pay. If God provides that then that will be a sign that He wants them to stay in Seattle.  Well, in the subsequent article, God does indeed provide the house – at the specific price they had in mind. Problem solved.

Now I ask you, “What is wrong with that picture?” That type of wet fleece belief system is essentially testing God. Not only that, it is a system that is practiced by the Norman Vincent Peale positive thinkers and the health wealth and prosperity crowd.  Now the latter two may indeed get their formula from the former, but I suspect not.

My wife and I used the same technique one time when we were selling our house in Mahomet, IL.  It “worked”, so we packed our bags and moved North.  I remember using that system as a young Christian. For example, I would say to God, “If you do not want me to attend this meeting make one of the tires flat on my car, then I will know.”  You might say that is rather infantile, but it is no different than what Shaun Alexander did.

As many of my friends know, we have not sold our house in Texas. Is that a sign from God that we should not have moved to NC or just a reflection of the housing market.  If my wife, who is a far better Christian than I, were to pray, “God I know that even in a bad housing market, you can bring a buyer for that house by the end of the week. Then I will know we are truly where you want us to be in NC.”  Is that a proper use of one’s relationship to God? 

Managing our expectations of how God interacts with us and how we engage Him is essential to a proper balance in the Christian life. It goes back to an earlier post about “God’s Will”. Does God’s will change whether we are in TX or NC? Will what He wants to accomplish get done whether I am in one place or the other? Does His knowing every hair on my head (Matt. 10:30) indicate He is controlling every moment of my life?

I would love it if I could set down the criteria I wanted God to follow in order to show me His will. However, I am not certain it works that way.  But I would dearly love to sell that house! 🙂

Father, I would delight in knowing what’s next. Nevertheless, I reckon I will need to take the next step in order to find out.


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