By Dr. John Ed Mathison
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries
What you expect is what you get. If you don’t expect much, you don’t get much. If you expect a lot, get ready to experience more. The good news is – you can lift your level of expectation!
I read about Dr. Henry Baker. He taught a freshman class of physics. About half of his students would fail his class. At the beginning of each quarter, he would tell them that about 50% would fail in order to prepare them for the shock so they wouldn’t be disappointed.
When talking with some of the other professors, Dr. Baker noticed that nobody else had that rate of failure. Somebody raised the whole question of expectation. Dr. Baker decided to do something different.
He began the next quarter by telling his students that oftentimes 50% of the students failed, but he knew that this group was going to be different. He could tell that they had more initiative, more drive, and more desire. He felt certain that every student could pass. He set a high level of expectation for them.
Guess what – he discovered that not a single student failed, and that the lowest grade was a “C.” He didn’t change his style of teaching, nor his tests, nor his grading. He only changed what he expected of the students. They measured up to the level of expectation he set for them.
I read about a study of Southern textile mill workers several years ago. Two new supervisors were put in charge of departments. One supervisor was told that his department had been a “problem” group and that he would have trouble getting them to produce. The other supervisor was told that he was being put in charge of the most efficient, productive department in the mill, and he could expect excellent results from them.
Most of the workers were at about the same level of ability, but there was a vast difference in what was produced. The supervisor who had the “problem group” kept telling them about the problems, and he created more problems. The other supervisor kept encouraging his people and motivating his people with high expectation levels, and they kept producing.
People have a way of measuring up to the level of expectation. Good leaders are people who have high levels of expectation. I discovered in church that the more you expected of lay people, the more they would serve and give and produce new levels of meaningful ministry. The same is true in business, athletics, academics, and life.
Read the short New Testament letter to Philemon – just 23 verses. Paul is writing to Philemon to ask him to receive Philemon’s slave Onesimus in a new relationship. Onesimus had been converted under Paul’s ministry. Philemon was to receive him back, not as a slave, but as a brother, to serve in the church. He makes a good case to Philemon indicating that he could tell Philemon to do it, but he wants him to make that decision himself. Forgiving a slave and receiving him as a brother was a huge expectation.
Paul lifts the level of expectation when he says in verse 21, “I know that you will do even more than what I say.”
Lifting the levels of expectation can be one of the most exciting, productive, and meaningful steps that we can take in life. Complete the following sentence: This week I expect . . .
John Ed’s blog posts appear in For His Glory each week.1
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