C level expectation with A+ potential

gradePicture courtesy of http://www.pixgood.com

I’m a firm believer in being honest about our weaknesses, failures and mess ups. Unfortunately we’ve been taught as a society how to fake the funk whether than admit when we’re weak or not at our best. I’ve came to a conclusion that there is an area of my life in which I am not consistently practicing what I preach and that is the area of expectation. I preach hard and constantly to the children I serve that they should have high expectations in everything they do. Yet as I evaluate the last few assignments of my classes, I realize that in several of the assignments, I had an expectation that I was going to receive a low grade. Why did I feel that way? Was it insecurity? Maybe. Was it lack of confidence? That ties with insecurity so that’s possible. When I received the grade, I was amazed that I actually did better than I expected. After this last go round with it, I became frustrated that instead of having humble expectation of progress, I was expecting a bad grade.

These thoughts have me pondering why so many of us like myself have low expectations of ourselves from time to time. I want to raise 3 possibilities and then offer some solutions for us to think about.

3 reasons why we have low expectations of ourselves:

1. We haven’t been consistently pushed in our lives to do great things. Everybody was raised in different cultures. Some people were raised in cultures where there were nothing but high expectations and if you didn’t meet them you would be disappointed. Others of us were raised in cultures where it was about effort and giving your best. As a result of being raised in an effort culture, some of us are just satisfied being in the race. This is in no way meant to condemn the families or cultures we grew up in. This is to demonstrate how sometimes the effort culture can be detrimental to us as we grow up. Another aspect of this is that some people grew up in cultures where there was no one there to push them to do bigger and better things. One of the consequences of not being pushed consistently to do great things is perceiving those who are trying to push you as being mean and pushy. I’ve learned in my life that the people who are pushing me to be great care about me and want me to be best I can be. Yes their techniques have to be harsh at times, but we will see over time that those techniques were beneficial for us. We see this very often in the sports world. Some of the best teams ever were pushed to greatness at every step not being satisfied with just getting in.

2. We have a low view of ourselves. Let me be clear that I’m not advocating for us to have a view of ourselves that is arrogant as if we’re all that and a bag of chips. At the same time, too many of us do not view ourselves the way the Creator sees us. As a result of not aligning ourselves with God’s view, we accept any and everything in our lives instead of the best. Some of us will focus more on what’s wrong with us (our weaknesses) than we will our strengths. Too many of us focus on our deficiencies instead of the things that make us strong. When you talk down about yourself too frequently, those words become a part of your memory that you’re not erasing. How we view ourselves can be a determining factor in the level of expectation we have for our lives.

3. We live in a constant state of mediocrity. Mediocrity is the habit of doing things at a quality that is less than excellent. One of the byproducts of having low expectations is feeling comfortable not presenting the best work and product that we’re capable of. While we are not perfect, we must have a spirit of excellence in everything we do (more on that later). What is related to mediocrity is average. Average living (doing things at a C level) comes from low expectations. When you do not expect the best, you most likely will not give the best. However, if you have high expectations, you have a better chance of giving your best.

So how do we raise our expectations to line up with our A+ potential?

1. Surround yourself with people who are willing to push you in a loving way to greatness. The people that you want in your life are those who see the A+ potential in you and are willing to squeeze it out of you. Hanging around people who are fine with you having low expectations of yourself has to be a no-no at this point in your life. If you’re a brother, surround yourself with men who do not mind seeing you progress as much as possible. Have conversations with them and keep them updated on what’s going on allowing them to hold you accountable. The same thing goes for my sisters. The people who push you lovingly are not jealous of you and may actually be a little more successful than you at this point. Let them have access to your life. We cannot make it in life without the proper relationships girding us up especially when things get hard. Having low expectations will definitely hurt you when you’re already struggling. In those moments, you need your friends to remind you of what you have in you as they refuse to let you do anything less than great.

2. View yourself based on God’s approval of you. This is a constant battle for most of us, but too many of us put our value and worth in the hands of other human beings. Too many of us allow society to determine how valuable we are. We must get to a point where we see ourselves as children of the most high God. How we see ourselves changes every aspect of how we live. When we know that God is the greatest power, we realize that we do not have to accept defeat because of the one we serve. As I’ve said many times over the years, our lives would be so much easier if we spent more time focused on God’s approval of us than society. To be valuable in society we must have certain clothes, a certain amount of money and a certain amount of popularity. God doesn’t see us based on what we have or don’t have. God sees us as valuable just because He created us. That is enough for me to live and do what God wants me to do to the best of my ability. Speaking of doing things to the best of my ability…..

3. Live a life of excellence. As discussed earlier, living a life of excellence isn’t about trying to be perfect. At the end of the day, everyone falls short in some regard. The goal of our lives should be to make sure that by the end of a task, we’ve given our best to it. If I’m living within my A+ potential, every part of my life should have excellence written all over it. The God that we serve is excellent; therefore I am obligated to operate in excellence. When you live a life of excellence, you are saying that you refuse to be average. Too many people have paid the ultimate price over the years for us to be average and mediocre. Give your best to every task and leave the results to God. Even if it doesn’t turn out well, it is a good feeling to know that no matter how things go, you gave your best. Excellence is the model of someone who knows they have A+ potential.

Today I encourage all of us (especially me) to be determined from this day forth to live a life reflecting of the A+ potential we have. No matter how things turn out, raise your expectation and do what you’re capable of doing. God has placed so much inside of you. Bring it out and have the expectation that it will produce something glorious! I am determined from this day forth to have A+ expectation that matches my A+ potential!

What I’ve Learned in 2 1/2 Months of Grad School

GCU

2 1/2 months ago by faith, I finally started my post-baccalaureate studies after a 6 year break from school. A part of me regrets waiting so long, but as I’ll reemphasize later on, God’s timing is perfect. In just 2 1/2 months, a lot has taken place for me personally. I’m starting school in the midst of a season of my life that’s been kind of difficult and challenging. However, in this season there’s been tremendous growth to take place. While I could share probably 10-15 things I’ve learned since starting school, I’ll share with you four.

  1. My standards must increase in every area of my life. One of the biggest difference between undergrad and grad school is the depth that our work must have. No longer will we get an A or even a B for just “attempting” the assignment. If we’re going to get an A, we must present scholarly work that is excellent. This is a core lesson for me as I am a few months away from 30. In this season of schooling, I have also accepted my call to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Because of schooling and the call I’ve accepted, I realize that my standards must increase in every way possible. It’s not fair for me to expect excellence from others but not operate in it myself. My calling demands me to walk in excellence honoring Christ. It’s not just about being good enough to get by, but it’s about excelling in every phase of my life. Luke 12:48 reminds us that if we’ve been given much, much more is expected of us. An opportunity to earn a master’s degree and this calling has been given to me. Because of what’s been given to me, much more is required.
  2. Be at peace with what God leads you to do. Four words have guided me through the start of grad school and accepting my calling to preach: God’s timing is perfect! More and more I am at peace with the decision I made to attend Grand Canyon and accept my calling to do what I was created to do. I firmly believe that in this life you will not have true peace until you are obedient to what God has placed in your heart. While I am nervous about some of the different partsĀ  of what God has called me to do, I am peace knowing that He is pleased with me. When you are at peace with what God is calling you to do, you do not owe anyone an explanation. At the end of the day, we as humans are fickle and inconsistent. While we should have accountability in our lives, we should be careful about giving explanations of our call to people who do not have the right to determine what God has called you to do. Be at peace knowing that God is directing your steps in every way possible.
  3. Making connections is critical to success. Already in grad school, I’ve made wonderful connections with men and women of God who are determined to live out their call. The biggest thing that I love about college and grad school (especially with the way social media is these days) is that we can make connections that will last forever. I love being around people (even online) who do not mind having an intellectual talk about the Christian faith, life, etc. To have people who are struggling like you to accept and understand their call is a tremendous blessing. It is also great to have people who want to help you grow especially spiritually. Lastly, let me take a moment and thank God for a connection that’s happened in this season. God has blessed my church with a new pastor. Since his arrival at our church, he has really encouraged and challenged me to be my best. His push and encouragement is part of the reason why I am moving forth in what God has called me to do. It is great to have someone, especially someone you call your pastor, who is in your corner and doesn’t mind investing in you. There is no telling what God is going to do in my life as a result of who I’m connected with.
  4. The Old Testament is a portrait of how gracious and mighty God is. If you’ve been around Christians for a long time, you probably know that there’s been this belief that the God of the Old Testament is a mean God full of wrath. While it is true that God punishes disobedient, the God of the Old Testament is also gracious. I’m in the next to last week of my Old Testament class and it has been a blessing in terms of understanding the overall story line of the Old Testament. Since the fall, God’s main concern has been establishing the relationship he had with humanity before Adam and Eve sinned. Taking this Old Testament class has allowed me to gain an appreciation for God in terms of who He is and what He means to me. I’ve been challenged to live my life with more reverence as a response to how holy our God is. I would encourage everyone at some point to really study the Old Testament starting with creation. What we see in the Old Testament is how great and mighty our God is. As Israel and New Breed said, who is like the Lord? Nobody!!

I pray that something I’ve said will be a source of encouragement and hope to you. My focus at this point of life is being obedient to what God has placed in my heart and soul. Life is too short to sit on the gifts God has placed in me to make a difference in this world. I thank the Lord that even though I do not feel qualified, God has called me and that’s all that matters!