How to Be Centered on God’s Expectations Rather than the Expectations of Others

A few years ago, I was busier than God wanted me to be, let alone expected me to be. I was doing what most of us do—more than God calls us to do. God has one expectation of you: to live your life as a disciple of Christ and follow Him. But for some reason, we have these false expectations that are either placed on us by ourselves or the world.

We compare ourselves to others, commit to more than we have time or the ability to accomplish, and listen to the lie that our worth and identity is found in what we do versus our relationship with God.

So how do we gain 20/20 vision on God’s expectations rather than the expectations of others? Let’s explore a few areas that cause us to have blurred vision and distract our gaze on Christ.

Expectations and Comparison

Fact: Jesus didn’t meet the expectations the world had of a Savior. He was a carpenter’s son who engaged in relationships with unclean sinners, performed miracles and healed on the Sabbath, and was condemned to death on a cross.

So, why do we think we will meet the expectations the world has for us? Being a Christian will never look the way someone else expects being a Christian to look. The mission may be the same for all of us (to live as a disciple of Christ), but the way we are called to live out that mission will look different.

So why do we compare ourselves to the mom who had a baby a month ago and already looks fantastic in her athleisure leggings, or the sister who just got engaged while you haven’t been on a date in years, or the co-worker who got the promotion over you?

Falling for the Lies

Comparison has been around since the Garden of Eden when the snake compared man to God, and Eve fell for his lies. We continually want what someone else has, even if what they have isn’t God’s will for our life.

Even St. Paul faced comparison to Apollos and had to defend the ministry God placed on his life. Paul wrote, “For someone will say, ‘His letters are severe and forceful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.'” (2 Corinthians 10:10).

Did they honestly expect St. Paul to be amazing at everything? If Paul preached as powerfully as Apollos, would he have written the life-changing letters he wrote to the Corinthians, Romans, or Galatians? These letters and many more provide us limitless opportunity for contemplation and a greater understanding of the early Church. There was nothing within or absent from St. Paul that God didn’t place or omit in him for a reason.

The same is for you and me! God didn’t place something within you or omit something from you for any other reason than he knew you didn’t need it to accomplish His mission in your life! Just like Eve, we grasp at what God knows we don’t need to accomplish His will. We compare ourselves to others and fail to see all God has given us to do one thing; be His disciple and follow Him.

So, stop looking around, scrolling, or comparing yourself and begin gazing on the face of Jesus in the Eucharist and ask Him to reveal to you how you resemble His face as well as His Sacred Heart.

Just Say No!

If you are a child of the ’80s, you remember the “Just Say No!” anti-drug campaign with our then First Lady, Nancy Reagan. There was also the incredible fried egg in a pan advertisement that showed us what our brains on drugs would look like. But the phrase, “just say no” is forever fried (pun intended) in my mind.

You have probably heard it before: saying yes to something means you are saying no to something else. Everyone loves when we say yes to a party, a committee, a volunteer position at church, work, or school. No one wants to hear “no,” but “no” needs to fall from our lips more than “yes.”

People expect to hear “yes,” but your “yes” is not always what is right for your spiritual, mental, and physical health. You don’t have to be a people pleaser. You only have to please your heavenly Father.

One way to shed the guilt of other’s expectations is to ask yourself if what you are saying yes to will leave you time to make your relationship with God primary. If the answer is nope: Just Say NO!

The world will try to tempt us with fame, success, wealth, promotions, and the likes. But we must remember that if our identity comes from people, it can be stripped by people. If it comes from success, it can be stripped by failure. If it comes from something on the outside, it can be stripped from something on the outside. Therefore, make sure your “yes” is a “yes” and your “no” is a “no.” Only then will God’s glory be revealed, and His mission in your life fulfilled.

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Relationship Comes Before Identity

A few years ago, my identity was defined by what I did rather than Whose I was (God’s, of course). It became clear to me when I scrolled through my photos that the majority of them were of me at work. Very few were of me with my family, friends, or people who mattered to me most.

What I put out into the world was an image of a very busy woman who was serving God through a beautiful ministry. But on the inside, I was someone defined by the conferences I was invited to speak at or the talks on the main stage I was asked or not asked to give rather than being a beloved daughter of God.

Incredibly, something as simple as an Instagram account caused me to reorder my life from the inside out. I was too consumed with outside appearances, and that destroyed me from within. Shauna Niequist wrote in Present Over Perfect, “I don’t know a way to remake anything without first taking down the existing structures, and that’s what no does—it puts the brakes on your screaming-fast life and gives you a chance to stop and inspect just exactly what you’ve created for yourself, as difficult as that might be.”

You see, the world will tell us that what we do is more important than who we are. Then, maybe, if and when you have time, you can make time for your relationship with God and others. If I could place a sound effect in this blog, it would be a screeching tire sound or nails on a chalkboard to get your attention! Our relationship with God should be primary, above all other things, and all relationships in our life should flow out of our relationship with God. This relationship then forms your identity, not external worldly things. Then, and only then can we fulfill the mission God has for our life; to follow Him as His disciple.

Let Go of Expectations

God wants you to follow Him. When you follow Him so intimately that you are covered in the dust from His sandals, allow Him to clean you up. God does not expect you to be perfect! Therefore, give yourself a break. Receive the one thing He hoped to provide you from the beginning of time: eternal life with Him.

Parents, bosses, church leaders, friends, family members, your in-laws, and spouse will always have expectations of you. Most of the time, it’s hardest to live up to the expectations we place on ourselves.

Therefore, the next time you are overwhelmed and feel as though you can’t get anything right, find a quiet room or adoration chapel, list the expectations you face, and ask God a few simple questions:

  • Do You expect this of me or from me?
  • Is this expectation needed to accomplish the mission you have for my life?

Do you struggle with living up to the expectations of others? How do you stay focused on God’s expectations instead?

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Tricia Tembreull is a regular contributor to the BIS blog and a devotion writer. She is a California girl with a boundless passion for life. After two decades of ministering to teens and youth ministers as a trainer, ministry mentor, and speaker in Catholic youth ministry, Tricia now serves as Campus Minister at USC Caruso Catholic Center. She loves adventure and seeks it everywhere she goes. As an avid foodie, she enjoys testing new recipes out on friends and family, gathering them around the table to encounter Christ in one another and be drawn to the satisfying unity we crave in the Eucharist.

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  • Reply
    Carissima Keatley
    July 9, 2019 at 12:59 am

    Oof. This hit me right where it needed to. I’m constantly attempting to live up not only to other’s expectations but my own as well. Thank you for writing this.

  • Reply
    July 9, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    This is the best anti-people pleaser message that I have ever heard. Thank you!

  • Reply
    July 16, 2019 at 7:20 pm

    OMG! The blog, Gods Expectations spoke directly to my heart. I heard God telling me to just let go and say “no” I now know what I have to do and I don’t feel guilty anymore. He has given me confirmation. Thank you so much! This is the answer I was waiting for from God!

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