What Missionaries Ought to know about Expectations

  • Approximate Time Commitment: 20 minutes

What Missionaries Ought to know… does not mean that the author sat down and decided what missionaries ought to know, but rather that missionaries themselves asked about these topics. During the author’s 35 years of college teaching, he learned that if one person asks a question, others probably want to know the same thing—and if two people ask, it was certainly a topic that others need to know about. These are things missionaries need to know because several missionaries have asked about each of them at one time or another.

To read more from the What Missionaries Ought to Know series


Resource Description


You have been working on a project for six months, already twice as long as you thought it would take, and you are discouraged that it is going nowhere. Perhaps you expected help from your field director and you feel like all you got was criticism. Perhaps you are field director, and you are discouraged that the other missionaries did not really get behind your proposal. Perhaps after being asked to take a position in your home office, you were surprised to find that you feel like you are accomplishing little of real importance. All of these situations have unfulfilled expectations in common. Let us look at such expectations, their importance, and the possibilities for doing something about them.

What are expectations?

An expectation is something you believe will occur, any event you anticipate happening in the future. You may expect either good or bad events. Hope is expecting good, and dread is expecting bad. Paul’s famous expectation in Philippians 1:20 was that Christ would be glorified in him.

Expectations are often stated as goals or objectives. We may set these for ourselves, or others may set them for us. In either case we evaluate what actually happens on the basis of the expectations. When our expectations are appropriate, we have feelings of excitement, satisfaction, accomplishment, and success when we reach the goals. If our expectations are slightly high, they may inspire us to work harder and achieve more than we would have with lower expectations. The problem comes when our expectations are too high.


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