I was leading a whole church service yesterday morning. Whole church is the correct current terminology for all-age, or family service. Basically there wasn’t any children’s work, so I was ready… I had an activity, I had post it notes shaped like hands, I had action songs, I had videos, and I had a chocolate cake in case bribery was needed! 

The first people started to arrive and there were comments about there not being many people, 5 minutes before the service and I realised that there weren’t any children coming. In my head there was a sense of ‘well, I’m glad I put in the effort!’ And I was also expecting it to be a complete flop – afterall there were all of these different elements, including action songs, and no children. Now, I’m not good at leading things spontaneously, I like a plan and to know what I’m doing. So I started, and it was actually fantastic. I’m not actually blowing my own trumpet and talking about my part, but I mean the interaction and participation from the congregation. They were joining in with the songs, they were answering any of the questions I had, and some put a lot of time and effort into their activities.

I had an expectation of people not enjoying or getting anything out of the service, as there were some elements which had a focus for children, and yet that was completely blown out of the water. I guess that is the sign of what whole church worship should be but…

On Saturday I did something for the first time, I ran with someone else! This was a big step for me, and I enjoyed it. I didn’t really know what to expect, especially as it was in the morning as well. But it was nice, and it was fun, but I struggled with the actual run. This was because I pushed myself at the very beginning, with some of my fastest splits to date – why? I think subconsciously I thought that the person I was running with had high expectations of me, and so I pushed myself to live up to that, and then with the scorching heat of the sun, I just couldn’t keep it up. All of that was completely in my head but the I felt a bit of a failure.

I’ve been watching the olympics over the last week, and I’ve found it fascinating to see exactions about medal hopefuls – the fact that they are even known as that would suggest that we have certain expectations of them. Then to see people’s reactions, and so,ermines the Olympians themselves when they don’t get that gold or that medal, it sometimes heartbreaking – and yet they are competing at Olympic level – how many of us could do that?

All of this has started me thinking, should we have expectations of ourselves or of others? I haven’t found an answer just an undue ding list of questions. If we don’t have expectations, then what do we know what we are aiming for? And I guess for me as a teacher, if the pupils don’t know my expectations how do they know how to behave/work? And yet if we set expectations for ourselves, and for others then are setting ourselves up for disappointment?

Max Whitlock being interviewed after winning his second gymnastics gold yesterday said ‘I never go in expecting to win a medal’. He just goes in and does his best. That’s great, but how do we know what our best is if we don’t push ourselves? How can we push ourselves if we don’t have certain expectations in the first place.

I think it depends on what those expectations are based on. My expectations of a disastrous service were based on major judgements on my part of the fact that adults can’t benefit from activity and actions and I was wrong. 

If our expectations are realistic, based on fact, and not too specific – I’ve they’ll definitely be winning a gold – then I think they can only be beneficial. We can only ever expect for ourselves and other to do the best they can at that time, and that is going to be different from the best at another time. Afterall life gets in the way sometimes. 

Rather than worrying about what other expect of you, just enjoy what you’re doing and give it your all. Don’t expect too much of other Pepe, but encourage them to do their best,Mao enjoy it and to give it their all.

I’m no gymnastics expert but I think there was a element of that with max Whitlock. He went into the pommel horse final having won a gold already, he had no expectation of winning another medal, he just went out and enjoyed it and gave it his all, and won his second gold. We can learn a lot from Olympians! 

I still don’t think there are answers here, but it’s going to give me things to think about in terms of my work, my ministry, but most importantly my expectations of myself!

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