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Posts Tagged ‘higher standard’

Realistic Expectations

February 27th, 2013

“Jesus . . knew what was in man.” John 2:25 NIV.

One’s better potential is possible; others’ expectations rarely are.

Patience is easy to claim until something or someone tests it. Some years ago, I met a person wearing a puzzling lapel button with an unpronounceable mixture of letters – PBPGNFWMY. My curiosity prevailed and I asked of its meaning, receiving their explanation that the letters stood for, “Please be patient; God’s not finished with me yet.” How different your life, and relationships, could be if you remembered that simple reality. We all tend to expect a lot from people, often more than their capabilities at the moment. If you remembered our common humanity, you would have more realistic expectations of yourself, as well as others.

I think there is a difference between seeing the best in another person or having unrealistic expectations of them. One’s better potential is possible; others’ expectations rarely are. Seeing the best is to believe yourself, or another, holds potential just needing encouragement to be realized, while unrealistic expectations determine what you desire a person to be and demand they become. You, and most others, are capable of more than we require of ourselves – better behavior, greater achievement, stronger discipline, or kinder interactions – but all of us often fail the expectations of one another.

Jesus knew people, perfectly. He not only identified with our humanity; Jesus embraced yours and my humanity completely, “yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT. John’s Gospel explains, “Jesus did not need man’s testimony about man, for He knew what was in a man.” John 2:25 NIV. Another translation reads, “. . because Jesus knew what was in their hearts.” Today’s English Version.

I am intrigued by the idea; Jesus knows what’s in a man’s hearts. Jesus sees the best in you and works to bring out the best, but also knows your human frailty. He is neither surprised when you are your best nor when you are not. Jesus faithfully calls you to a higher standard, yet understands your best would still be imperfect. That is comforting to me because my heart and intentions are often better than my performance at a given moment.

Jesus knows my heart – that I want to be better than I am; I can be better than I am, but I am not always better than I could be. I think you who are reading this can probably identify with such a confession. My realistic expectation for you is as was Paul’s for the Philippians, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you . . being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:3-6 NIV. 1 John 3:1-3 NKJV.

Simon Peter is well known for his spiritual lapses, none more recounted than his denials of Jesus. After His Resurrection, Jesus affirmed Peter’s love. Mindful of Peter’s failure but knowing Peter’s heart, Jesus said, “Satan has desired to have you . . but I have prayed for you that your faith fail not: and when you are converted, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32 KJV. Jesus saw and believed the best of which Peter was capable. The word, “converted,” is from the Latin “convertere,” meaning “to turn around.” The word used by Luke can also describe “a rope twisted until rigid and strong.” Jesus knew Peter’s heart; Peter’s failure neither defined his past nor declared his future. Nor should yours.

My prayer for you today is that you are confident of the potential God sees in you.

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Minimal Effort

July 23rd, 2010

“Don’t just do the minimum that will get you by.” Colossians 3:23 The Message

“Life does not afford you maximum reward from minimal effort.”

My thoughts today are about “minimal effort.”

In life, I have discovered that you usually get what you give. The Bible teaches that principle in many ways. Consider the principle of sowing and reaping, “sow bountifully, reap bountifully; sow sparingly, reap sparingly.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 NIV/See Galatians 6:7-10 NLT. Life does not afford you maximum reward from minimal effort. That may not be the way that any of us wish it were, but that’s the way the real world works. There is a consistently proportional relationship between your efforts and your results. Today’s verse teaches the same, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart.” Colossians 3:23 NIV. You can try life another way or you can cooperate with God’s way.

I find that true in all kinds of ways. You should have learned that at home, but loving parents may want to spare their kids from those kind of realities early on, so they require little and then are surprised when their kids don’t volunteer to do much else and start life assuming everything should be done for them and little expected of them. Not a very good beginning for life.

Then comes school. School is a student’s job; it’s work. And it is training for how life works. Often how well you do in the classroom and studies suggests your later success. To receive maximum benefit from your education, you must give maximum effort to your study. Study – which involves time and effort – produces better grades. Do only what you have to do to pass, and that’s all you will ever do, just get by. As home prepares you for success at school, school prepares you for success at work. And work prepares you for success in life.

Early in your working career you will face this same truth. You can survive financially with minimal effort, but you will have minimal wages to show for it. Satisfaction, and meaningful contribution, and personal fulfillment are better goals. They allow you to enjoy a pride of accomplishment, a knowledge that your life was invested in meaningful ways to your own and others’ benefit. Money is not the better goal of your working years. But money, the currency for which you are trading a part of your life daily, is not unimportant. Maximum financial reward can afford you options and offer you opportunities that you would not otherwise have.

Now consider the most important motivation for giving your best effort. Maximum effort honors God. “Don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master – for God – confident that you will get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.” Colossians 3:23-25 The Message. I would suggest that being a follower of Jesus only makes minimal effort more glaring and unacceptable. A few years ago, I felt the Lord speaking to my heart this life principle – “Excellence, a higher standard.” I highly recommend it to you. See 1 Corinthians 14:12 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you never accept good enough as good enough.

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