learning to lower expectations

Most missionaries arrive on the mission field with a high level of idealism. Ideals are wonderful, but they are just that: ideals. All too often, our ideals form the basis of our expectations. We expect our fellow missionaries will have a certain level of maturity or will behave in a certain way. We expect the mission agency to function in a particular manner. We also expect God to do many wonderful things through our ministry as we step out in faith to serve Him. Usually our expectations are overinflated, and need to be modified to be realistic. For some who have arrived on the mission field full of idealism, this can be a shattering experience which can lead to bitterness and resentment toward the mission agency and toward fellow missionaries who fail to meet their expectations.

It is not necessarily wrong to be disappointed when expectations are not met. But it is wrong to let that disappointment fester into bitterness and resentment toward your fellow workers. Missionaries are human, and mission agencies are imperfect institutions. Working on the mission field is a high pressure lifestyle. -Taken from Re-Entry: Making The Transition From Missions To Life At Home

I’ve been on numerous short term missions trips. I’ve taken multiple missions classes. I know I shouldn’t have expectations when I go and serve on the mission field. And yet, the above is exactly what happens every time I go. Why? I always set the ministries at such a high level that it doesn’t take much for the ministry to topple from the great height I placed it.

I so need to learn this lesson. I so need to stop elevating people to such a high level. I set them up to disappoint me and then shout aha! I knew you would let me down! Then I feel justified in withdrawing, keeping myself away from them because they always let me down.

You know what I think? I think this is a clever device the enemy has been using against me all my life. I think he’s a liar and a thief. I think he loves it when he thinks I’ll just roll over and die from self pity. But he has another think coming. I know who I belong to. I know I am more than a conqueror in Christ. I may get knocked down, but I don’t stay down.

All this to say, I’m learning. I’m learning who I am. My identity is in Christ, not ministry or job or friends or family or the world. I’m learning to love people the way they are, not the way I expect them to be.

His… Michelle



a lesson from ranting…

I went to work today after wrestling with the strong desire to call out sick. I was still angry from the phone call last night. It took all of the Lord’s strength to get me up and out the door. I felt like Jonah must have felt after God told him to go to Nineveh. Just get me to Tarshish as fast as you can! I ended up having another mostly frustrating day. My second patient was a lovely man with colon cancer. We proceeded to remove a portion of his colon. As the case was in progress, we ran into a bit of a snafu that required emergency back up help. Except that when we said we needed emergency help, nobody came. Nobody. Thankfully, we had enough folks in the room to take care of the emergency. But what a communications breakdown! I’m so tired of this version of the machine. I’ve been doing travel nursing in the USA precisely because of this thing. It happens everywhere. After everything was under control again, I sat in the dark OR (laparoscopic surgery is done mostly in the dark) and said, God, I just don’t want to be here for one more minute. God replied, Who are you here for Michelle? Why are you here? The patients are the only ones who should matter and they need you. Boom! The hammer of God falls on my head. I’m such a stubborn, selfish thing. But God is merciful. He grows a little plant to give me shade when I’m hot. Pray for me, chief of sinners.

His… Michelle
Philippians 1:20