unfulfilled expectations

When dreams are not meant to be!

“Are you seeking great things for yourself? Don’t do it!” Jeremiah 45:5 (NLT)

I find myself cringing when I hear people say “You can be anything you set your heart to be.” It is not true. It sets people up for misguided lives fraught with unfulfilled expectations and disillusionment. I understand the reasoning behind such a statement, particularly when it is directed at children and youth. It is important to instill a dare to dream mentality and a can-do attitude in every human heart. But dreams, like everything in life have parameters and exacting conditions that are necessary for their fulfillment. And it is not just a matter of faith and hard work.

A more accurate statement to inspire young and old alike is to say “You can be anything God has created you to be.” That maxim acknowledges the requisite talents and motivations endued at birth. And it also takes into account the times and seasons in which a person is living and the necessity of divinely ordained opportunity.

Michael Jordan is a great illustration. In 1993Jordan retired as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, after leading the Chicago Bulls to three NBA championships. He quit basketball to pursue a lifelong dream of becoming a professional baseball player.

He spent two years bringing his well-documented dedication and intensity to baseball, but ended up being a journeyman player at best with a .252 batting average and never made it to the big leagues. He returned to the Bulls for the 1995-96 season and proceeded to lead the Bulls to another three-peat series of NBA championships.

What was the cause of the disparity in the outcome of Michael Jordan’s pursuit of two dream careers? Obviously the measure of inherent talent was one. Another was the contrast in experience and time for skill development. But an intangible may have been his chemistry with his teammates and his coach. Dream fulfillment is complicated business.

In the waning years leading up to the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in 586 BC, Jeremiah the prophet was busy warning both the king and religious leaders of God’s impending judgments. He had a faithful scribe named Baruch to whom he dictated his prophecies and through whom a number of them were personally delivered.

Baruch, who’s name means “blessing” was hoping against hope that the recipients of these prophetic messages would repent and that his ministry would be successful. As a spokesperson for Jeremiah he had dreams and career aspirations of a position of influence in a reformed society. (Not unlike Jesus’ disciples.) It was not to be.

In what appears to be a parenthetical

When dreams are not meant to be! Read More »

The Happy Perfectionist

This Labor Day weekend Susan and I, with some trepidation, made the trek up north to check on our vacation home. We had the place rented out this past year and our renters moved out the end of August. Having not been there for some time and only been limited as landlords to periodic reports; we came armed with cleaning supplies, tools and our sleeves rolled up to spend the weekend working.
When we drove up the driveway and walked through the front door all our fears were allayed. We were pleasantly surprised to find everything in good repair, the furniture and furnishings back in their proper places, and the house well cleaned and vacuumed. Even the garage was swept and clean the way we had left it and the lawn mowed. It was as if no one had ever lived there. What a joy! And blessed are the responsible renters for they shall inherit their full damage deposit!
Joy and perfectionism are infrequent companions and the term the “happy perfectionist” is for the most part an oxymoron. Those like me with the perfectionist gene know that perfectionism is a hard task master. Unfortunately the more afflicted a person is with perfectionism the more unlikely they are to be satisfied that things have met their expectations. And by the same token the less likely they are to be happy with the result. Thankfully however, I can say that I was a happy perfectionist with how we found our home.
There are typically only two times when a perfectionist is truly happy. First when they complete a task that measures up to their high standards of excellence and fully meets their expectations. And second, when someone else completes a task that measures up to their high standards of excellence and fully meets their expectations.

The Happy Perfectionist Read More »

Keeping an ideal from becoming an ordeal

The joke is told of the young couple who entered into their marriage looking for the ideal, discovered it was an ordeal and ended up wanting a new deal. Unfortunately whether it is a relationship, a job, a home, a purchase or some project, all too often our pursuit of the ideal can end up just like this marriage – becoming an ordeal in search of a new deal. It is this common pattern of regression, from ideal to ordeal, that produces so many unfulfilled expectations in our lives.

Sadly, unfulfilled expectations are toxic to faith and idealism. They tempt us to give up on our ideals and to stop dreaming. In the process they discourage us from hope and perseverance, in making a better life for ourselves and for those we love.

Here are three ways to keep your pursuit of the ideal from becoming an ordeal. They are based on biblical principles from the teachings of Jesus.

Keeping an ideal from becoming an ordeal Read More »

Scroll to Top