Have you ever anticipated something only to find that it was completely different from what you expected?
- The pictures on the web site of the vacation home were taken at night, lit like a Christmas tree, from across the lake. When you drove up, it looked completely different.
- The conference registration promised a mountaintop experience. Your idea of a mountaintop and theirs ended up being completely different.
- The reviews of a restaurant led you to think it would be a completely mediocre experience. To you it became one of the best places you had ever been.
For months I had been thinking, dreaming, envisioning, and contemplating what life would be like beginning a new ministry in a new place. I had certain pictures of the place, the people, and my own activities and attitudes. I had a very complete picture in my mind.
Now that I am here and I have actually settled in, things are different from what I expected. Not at all worse, or even better. Just different. I am finding that I have to manage my expectations and keep at the forefront of my mind the goals and dreams that I had when I rolled into town.
To do that, I am making sure to these three things:
- Following a written plan. Before I rolled into town I wrote a 100 day plan that would be my guide through my first few months. I make sure to consult it daily and see to it that I live up to my own expectations.
- Listening and learning from the people who have been living the reality I have now entered. I am putting together listening sessions in my new congregation so that I can learn the thoughts, dreams, hopes, and ministry goals of the people who have a vested interest in Ascension Lutheran Church and its ministry. Their thoughts both ground me and give me a launching point to move forward in an intentional way.
- Adjusting my expectations to meet reality. A fun part of managing prior expectations is looking at the places where they meet with reality, and adjusting accordingly. It’s a fun exercise that brings lofty ideas down to the plane of “rubber-meets-the-road” ministry. It actually gives everyday work direction and impetus to bring some of those loft hopes, dreams, and goals to fruition.
If you’re trying to manage expectations:
- Write down your plan.
- Listen and Learn.
- Adjust expectations.