Honey, dinner’s ready! Those are the words I expected to hear from my newlywed wife. I would then saunter into the dining room, sit down and enjoy a wonderful family dinner. Imagine the shock on my face when my wonderful wife walked into the living room with a plate of food, sat down on the couch in front of the TV, casually said, “dinner’s ready” before taking the remote, switching the channel, leaning back and digging into her meal! Like many couples, I had entered into marriage with expectations from my family of origin and I was in for a shock.
Many of us join a Life Group with expectations. Often, these expectations are derived from previous group experiences. Other times, our expectations are desires, things we would like to get out of the group. Perhaps we desire deep, theological discussions. Maybe we expect a social gathering, a hangout. Perhaps we even want therapy because we want to offload all the week’s troubles. Perhaps it’s all of these things combined. Perhaps it is some other expectation altogether. The problem comes when the group fails to meet these expectations – when we realize there is a gap between what we expected and what our group actually is. At this point, we have an important decision to make. Will we stick with the group or quit and find another group?
While different strokes for different folks holds true most of the time, it is important to make a few considerations. First, relationships are a huge part of life groups. Some have said that relationships are the backbone. In most relationships, the more time we spend with people, the more we get to know them. Perhaps, spending a little more time with this group before we call it quits could help us get to know the people and give them the opportunity to know us. We might just realize that we actually love them and want to stick with them. Secondly, we need to check if we may have unrealistic expectations. Is it perhaps time for us to adjust those expectations, accommodate and love people who are different from us? Finally, how might God be calling us to serve this group? What gifts do we bear that would build up the body of Christ represented in this group? What gifts might this group offer us?
Unmet expectations can be difficult, especially over an extended period of time. But sometimes, not having our expectations met might be the gift we needed to become better followers of Jesus.