I believe the concept of expectations is one of the most powerful concepts that drives people’s behaviors. What people expect to happen in any given situation or environment or what others expect a person to be able to do is an amazing thing to observe and take note of. We see what happens when expectations and reality do not converge in a marriage. You can observe a Marine when the expectations of his commanding officer push him to accomplish what he did not ever believe was possible (ex. he holds his breath underwater for an obscene amount of time). Watch two sets of families at a restaurant, and observe how they expect their kids to behave, and then watch the behavior. Here is the bottom line The expectations of others as well as our own expectations drive our actions. Some crazy things happen when people expect more of us than we expect of ourselves or of what culture expects of us. There are pressure points, lessons, examples, and consequences that can help shape the heart which drives behavior as well as behavior itself. But some of it begins with changing our expectations of a situation. Here is an example, where expectations are driving lifestyles and habits and this could change.
- Kids going off to college – Moms and dads, for the most part, have just resigned themselves that when their kids go to college they will party. Whether you are a Christian or not, if you have different desires and wishes, you will parent according to this expectation. It does not have to be a forgone conclusion that your kids will party and that you as a parent must be ok with that. What if you flipped it and said you expect them not to go down that road. Not you want, you expect. You tell them that not only is it possible to stay away from binge drinking and senseless partying, but you are going do everything in your power to keep them on that path. You expect them to obey the legal drinking age. You expect them to follow the law associated with weed. You expect them to understand (if they are a Christian) what God teaches about drunkenness and to take it seriously. And you plan to discipline accordingly. You plan to push the appropriate buttons to see this desired behavior, not just throw your hands up and say kids will be kids or that is what you did.
Let me encourage you to think through what are some other areas where changing, setting or believing different expectations would make a significant difference in behavior.