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Unmet Expectations

“Unmet expectations”. These are not words that we may not voice frequently, but most of us certainly think it.  If you’ve been in a relationship for more than a minute, you have probably experienced unmet expectations. You may have even experienced a severed relationship because of unmet expectations. As a pastor, I’ve seen the nastiness of unmet expectations wreak havoc in many relationships; but it doesn’t have to happen. Here are some thing I ask you to consider…

  1. Many people begin relationships with lofty expectations.

Don’t deny it… You most likely have had lofty expectations of someone when you began a relationship; maybe even before you met the person.  Oftentimes these lofty expectations begin in our minds when we’re young, when the idea of romance initially takes root in your mind. It’s nearly impossible not to let lofty expectations begin, and even more difficult to keep them in check once they take root.  The question arises, “Where do these lofty expectations originate?”

The seeds of Lofty Expectations in relationships have a plethora of origins; such as:

Parental Influence.  You watch, sometimes subconsciously, the way your parents interact. This may cause you to mimic their relationship, expecting the same thing from your future husband or wife that you see in your Father and Mother.  From one perspective, if you’re a female, you may have watched your Dad being very romantic, often buying your Mom flowers, opening the door for her, calling her charming names, doing well financially, taking out the trash, mowing the yard, doing “man stuff”, etc., chances are you will have the same expectations of the male in your relationships. On the other hand, if you’re a male, you may have watched your Mom have great respect for your Dad, working hard, being frugal, preparing meals, making herself look nice, all while having a career, etc. Again, chances are you will have the same expectations of the female in your relationship.  Or you may have experienced things vastly opposite of what I just described and you expect your spouse to be opposite of what you grew up watching.  Regardless, you have expectations from watching your parents.

Societal Influence:

Like with parents, you form presuppositions from society.  We are bombarded by what I call societal agendas.  Every society has a standard, good or bad, and societies will push their standard through television, social media, etc.… People in these settings sometimes don’t’ even realize that these constant influences begin to form lofty expectations that we will impose on our future relationships.  In other words, we will expect our future spouse to act like the characters we’ve seen on our favorite TV shows or in our favorite book.

There are many other influences that help create lofty expectations… the point is, most of us bring lofty expectations into relationships.  But is this ok?  Do problems arise with lofty expectations?  Well, of course.  If not, I wouldn’t be blogging about it.

  1. Lofty expectations become unmet expectations.

Let’s make this as simple as possible; if you go into a relationship with lofty expectations, be prepared for lofty letdowns.  Lofty expectations, sooner or later become unmet expectations, and unmet expectations sooner or later lead to major problems within relationships, especially marriage. Your spouse may do well for a period, meeting your expectations, and you have a sense of accomplishment; “I did well picking this mate”, etc. But as soon as your spouse fails to do what you expect he or she to do, you’re let down. Lofty expectations have become unmet expectations, and the temporary happiness you had from your spouse doing what you expected has disappeared. Now what?!? The slippery slope of unmet expectations begins to do enormous harm.

  1. Unmet expectations become relationship killers.

Once lofty expectations become unmet expectations, and remain unchecked, relationship damage is imminent. You need to understand this; you CANNOT expect unmet expectations to not harm your relationships. This is true in friendships, work relationships, etc., but mostly in marriage. It’s imperative that you know your spouse will let you down, as you will your spouse. It’s not difficult to understand that none of us are without sin; “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23). That includes you… and me… and your co-worker… and your friend… and your spouse… and your pastor… ad infinitum.

When you get upset because someone has not met your expectations, the very core of your relationship begins to crack, and if actions are not taken to repair it, those unmet expectations will cause irreparable damage and ultimately kill your relationship. Make no mistake about it, the more you are disappointed from unmet expectations in your relationship, the more your relationship is doomed.

  1. We have no right to have expectations of others.

The question arises, “Don’t I have the right to expect certain things from people in my relationships?” No… no we don’t. You have no more right to have expectations of others in your relationships than they have the right to have expectations of you. Bottom line; only Jesus has that right…He’s earned it, you haven’t, and never will.

When we expect others to act certain ways, do certain things, don’t do certain things, etc., we are acting as if we are the standard bearers; an attitude of, “you must live up to my expectations, and if you do I will reward you with a relationship, but if you don’t, you don’t deserve me.” In other words, arrogance raises its ugly head. This attitude and actions in a relationship stem from a fallen humanity, not from God. This idea is found in Galatians 6:1-5,

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.

(Galatians 6:1-5 ESV)

So how do we approach relationships in a godly manner?

  1. Take your emphasis off others and focus on your relationship with Jesus.

There it is… it’s that simple. If you take your focus off the other person in your relationship and, “take the log out of your own eye…” (Matthew 7:5), your relationship will improve radically. In relationships, it is tremendously important to use the energy you’re exerting on others through unmet expectations, and use that energy to, “examine yourself…” (1 Corinthians 11:28). When this is done, relationships improve. Find your fulfillment in Jesus, not the person in your relationship.

Ted Cunningham rightly said,

Remember, people are not your source of life. Jesus is your source. Don’t ask others to take His place and fill you up. Jesus is an unlimited supply. The people in your life are limited supplies.

Yes, it’s healthy to search for a mate that is like mindeddsc_0100 theologically, and other areas, but the more important matter is, does he or she have a desire for God? If they do, they will improve over time, just as you will. You will never find the perfect person to be in a relationship, so don’t try. Seek someone who loves Jesus, someone whose desires are Godward, and encourage them, don’t have expectations of them. A Christ-centered relationship is sanctifying, each person in the relationship is being set apart by the Holy Spirit; this takes time.

Per Scripture, love is an act of the will; it doesn’t depend on how the other person acts. We are told to love…period. You can love the person in your relationship, regardless of how they act… this is what Jesus did. Marriage models the relationship of Jesus and the church; He willingly loved, even while we were sinners, and gave His life for us. We are to do the same in relationships. When we do, God is glorified and we are satisfied. If your relationship hinges on whether a person acts the way you expect them to, you are not modeling Jesus or pointing people to Him. On the other hand, when you love others, even when they don’t meet your expectations, Jesus is modeled and we are content.

I understand this may be a strange concept, it was to me at one time; but if we chew on it and adhere to it, it will radically change our relationships for the better…

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Categories: bible, brokenness, Christians, Friend, Friendship, Glory, God, Gospel, Jesus, mercy, Uncategorized, unmet expectations | Leave a comment

Biblical Friendship

Biblical Friendship

I seriously believe that if people, especially men, understood biblical friendship, you would see a marked difference in our churches.  I believe the benefits of men understanding and practicing biblical friendship would manifest itself in the church in several ways, including:

·         Koinonia (κοινωνία) Fellowship.  Of course koinonia fellowship can be described as, “fellowship, sharing in common, communion.” The first occurrence of koinonia is Acts 2:42, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”  In other words, koinonia fellowship is Christ centered fellowship.  This is priceless to the church!

·         Stability:  Along with the koinonia fellowship produced by biblical friendship, comes stability in the church.  When Jesus is the heart of a local body of believers, stability is a natural outflow.  In other words, there’s no “backbiting”, gossip, etc., rather love, concern, and the like…

·         Ministry:  When Christ is the center of our friendships, ministry will be the norm.

So, to say the least, biblical friendship has tremendous benefits, not only to the church but to us as individuals…for these same benefits apply to us individually!

We Need Friendship


“Words are easy, like the wind; Faithful friends are hard to find.”
― William Shakespeare

Today friendship has fallen on hard times. Few men have good friends, much less deep friendships. Individualism, autonomy, privatization, and isolation are culturally cachet, but deep, devoted, vulnerable friendship is not. This is a great tragedy for self, family, and the Church, because it is in relationships that we develop into what God wants us to be… Friendships…are there to be made if we value them as we ought – and if we practice some simple disciplines of friendship.
 (Kent Hughes)

Not only these benefits, but more…especially as men.  Men treat friendship differently than women. If we ever speak about the new shoes we got it’s normally something like,

“Dude…got new boots…steel toes…yeah.”  “Cool…”

But fact is we need friendship as much as women…it simply manifests itself differently.  Most of us just want someone to be friend enough to understand what’s going on in our life.  We don’t necessarily need someone to share long conversations, just to know that someone genuinely understands our plight and shows concern.  If you deny this, you’re just dumb…
But that’s a difficult thing to find in our narcissistic society.  Just knowing that someone understands our plight, even if they do nothing about but understand, will often give us the energy to continue on… 

It was C. S. Lewis who said,

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

Again, there are huge benefits to true friendship… –But the greatest benefit of biblical friendship is that it glorifies God!  You remember, I’m sure, the answer to the first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism which is,

“Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever”.

This is what we are to be about!  This is the reason we exist and the reason we are given life…to glorify God and enjoy Him forever!  It’s what I call the spiritual circle of life…we glorify God, He is exalted, we rest in Him, He is glorified, etc…what a glorious picture!  This is true in true friendship as well. Hear this statement, Biblical friendship is a God created thing, created and given to bring glory to God. God is glorified in the things He has created, things such as marriage, the church, even friendship.  Marriage is indeed a picture of the godhead and is intended to point people to the godhead, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  Think of it this way, in marriage you have two individual persons, both equal to each other, yet one willingly submits to the other for the glory of God.

The church likewise…  The people that make up the church are equal with those who are called to shepherd the church, its leaders, but they willingly submit to their servant leadership.
These two God created institutions were not designed and created by accident…no, not at all!  They were designed and created to point people to God!  By the way, that’s another reason both should be practiced properly/biblically.  That’s why we go to Scripture to understand marriage and church…so we can do them properly and point people to God through Jesus! I believe everything was created to point to a holy, awesome God! 

The same holds true for biblical friendship!  It has a unique design and creation in order for people to see Jesus in the midst of it!  So it’s clear that we should want to understand and practice biblical friendship, because it glories God and benefits us. So how do we do that? By examining passages regarding Christ-centered friendship…

What is Biblical Friendship?

So, we have to ask ourselves…What is friendship?  What does the Bible says about friendship?  I believe the best definition is found in the Bible…and it’s found in Proverbs 18:24…you know it well…
A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
(Proverbs 18:24 ESV)
What do we have in this verse? 

1.  Masses of acquaintances don’t equate to friends…
-We have so many ideas of what makes a “friend”.  But this is for sure…lots of people around you do not friends make.  Facebook cracks me up at times; people brag when they have 1000 “friends”; chances are they are only genuine friends with a handful, if even that!  I really think we need to clarify by calling them “Facebook friends”… Truth is, you may have many people surrounding you and have no friends at all…

Here’s the second truth in this verse…
2.  One who sticks closer than a brother…
-Herein lies the biblical definition for true friendship… I think you can define it just as the verse does,
“…a friend that sticks closer than a brother.”

This is indeed the Old Testament (OT), but unlike what many believe, the OT is not a Jesus-less volume.  The OT is but a trajectory toward Jesus and the cross, and Jesus is all over this proverb!! It was Spurgeon who, when speaking of preaching said,

I take my text and make a bee-line to the cross…

That included the OT.  The same thought is true in this OT proverb; Jesus is all over it!  So we can also say that Jesus is the subject of this verse…and of friendship!  Here’s my declaration, there is no true friendship without Jesus!  Now if we had more time I could share with you what a Jesus-less friendship looks like.  But I will say that God’s grace rains on the just and the unjust and even those outside of Christ can experience and even enjoy bits of true friendship, but not nearly the full benefits of a truly Christ-centered friendship.

Friendship is the grace of God, centered in Jesus Christ.  Many will tell you that family is as close as anyone could get, but to be close to someone in Christ is an entirely different realm; it transcends earthly or natural family…it is indeed supernatural! 

Many think of John 15 when friendship is discussed. There are some key truths in this passage about friendship:

 1.   Biblical Friendship for the Believer is Imperative.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:1-2)

If indeed friendship is a God created thing, created and given in order to bring glory to God, then it can be considered Christian fruit.  If we are dwelling in Christ, if you are alive in Christ, if you are a Christian, then you will produce fruit.  If you don’t produce fruit, as the passage says, there are severe consequences!  So friendship is a God created thing that is created and given to bring glory to God…therefore we should produce friendship…YOU ARE NOT AN ISLAND!

2.  Biblical Friendship for the Believer can only be done through Christ!

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)


Trying to be a true or biblical friend on your own strength is impossible!!  It simply cannot be done the way God intended it to be done.  It’s just like anything else a Christian strives to do, whether it’s pray, minister, give, encourage, read and understand the Bible, so forth and so on… If Christ is not the power behind it, it will fail!!  Some of us have made a mess of our friendships because we’ve struggled under our own power to be a friend.  You will do well tonight to understand this very elementary Christian truth; you can do nothing without Christ!!  
If any good work is done in me, it is not I Lord but Thee…

Think again about the quote from the Westminster Catechism,

“Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever”.

If man could do anything under our own power, then we would get the glory…but God will not share His glory with any man!!  But man cannot do anything in his own strength, including friendship, because Jesus is the Vine. We are but the branch that the Vine supports and sustains!

3.  Biblical Friendship for the Believer has Major Consequences. 

 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:6-11)

To sum Biblical Friendship up:
A.      Not abiding in Christ (for friendship or anything else) results in rubbish.
B.      Abiding in Christ (for friendship or anything else) has fruitful results.
C.      Abiding in Christ (for friendship or anything else) glorifies God and accomplishes our purpose for existing.
D.     Jesus is the Perfect Model of True Friendship

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
Wanting true, biblical friendship?  LOOK UNTO JESUS!!

Categories: bible, Brother, Friend, Friendship, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Jesus, John, John 15, Wilmington | Leave a comment

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