Managing Expectations

Several months ago I heard Pastor A. R. Bernard say this in one of his messages: When you know someone’s nature, you know how to deal with them. If you expect something different you are naïve. It takes awhile to discover the true nature of a person…It lowers the degree of your disappointment when you manage your expectation. Why would you expect 100-fold from a 30-fold person? If you do, you are the naïve one. You’ve got to know the nature of the person and how to interact.

I know truth when I hear it and I immediately embraced it. This one principle has made a huge difference in how I interact with people. I am the one who has changed, adjusting my expectations on how I know them to be vs. how I wish they were. Here’s an example. There’s a cashier I encounter regularly whenever I shop at my local grocery store in the early morning hours. Her checkout line is the only one open so I’m stuck. I’ve never known her to be in a good mood. She’s cranky, argumentative, and quick to complain about almost everything. I often wonder, “Why did she take a job dealing with customers?” I wish she were nicer, cheerful, kind.

After hearing Dr. Bernard, I decided to change my approach when encountering her. I now anticipate her to be exactly as she’s always been. I don’t expect her to have  had a life transforming experience with Jesus over the weekend (even though that would be wonderful). I tell myself before I get to the register, to remain calm and friendly no matter how difficult she will be. Sure enough, she has been exactly as she is each time, but I’m thankful to say, because I managed my expectations, I was not disappointed. I kept my cool and my Christian witness. She didn’t change, but I did.

God has done something  in my heart. I no longer judge her. I pray for her and now have a sincere desire to understand why she is the way she is. Is she living with a broken heart, broken dreams, or a history of abuse? I’m looking for a way to let her know that God cares. He has already given me a strategy. I’m just waiting for the right time.

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