This is a story of a Business as Mission (BAM) practitioner on the field using business as a mechanism for planting the church in areas of the world where you can’t do that with traditional missionary methods. In order to protect the work being done we will not be sharing their names or specific locations for their protection.
We love when we get the opportunity to sit down with our missionaries to learn and grow from their experiences on the field. Here is an honest and open dialogue from one of them about anticipation and expectations, and what it’s like when things don’t work out like they’ve planned.
Anticipation plays a big role in adjusting to new cultures and work. But just as the anticipations of a coming Messiah were clouded by false expectations, causing many to reject Jesus, we can also reject a people and a culture if our preparedness creates false expectations.
Moving to a new land, and more importantly a new culture, riddles us with anticipation of what is to come. But, if we aren’t careful, it can turn into building unrealistic expectations while we wear ourselves out preparing for what we think is ahead.
Anticipation vs Expectations
Expectations are dangerous. Over preparation can be risky. When we expect too much, we will surely be let down. In our western minds we call it ‘planning’ or being ‘proactive.’ But is that really the goal?
I’ve learned that planning and preparing kills joyful anticipation. We think we know what it’s going to be like because of the information we’ve gleaned from YouTube videos and books about foreign cultures. We even visit ethnic restaurants in the states to sample foods that will be prevalent in our new country. But let’s consider this simple scenario:
The chicken curry you sampled in the states may have been delicious, making you excited to savor this dish again in your new country. But once you’re served, it doesn’t look anything like the chicken curry you had back home. There are bones in the chicken and it’s greasy and spicy. This is not the westernized version of what your taste buds remember.
Now if you didn’t sample any of the cuisine in the states, you would have no idea what to expect. The bones and spices would not take you by surprise. You just dig in without anticipating anything different than what’s before you.
Using this very basic example, we see that preparation didn’t really pay off. It merely created unrealistic expectations. It made adjustment more difficult. When we anticipate without expectations, we increase our joy and reduce our stress!
I want to shift away from expectations, over preparation and pro-activeness because those things reveal a desire to control. May I rather rest and trust the God who rules over all. When we put our full weight on God, knowing He cares about every detail, we will live life joyfully with heartfelt anticipation.