What you expect of a relationship sets the stage for success or failure. If you expect too little, you may not value the relationship appropriately. If you expect too much, you’ll find yourself dissatisfied. In either case, you may find your loyalty to the relationship put to the test. Depending on the type of relationship, disloyalty can lead to disaster.
This principle is true for all relationships. It’s true of marriages and friendships. It’s also true of the relationship of citizen to government, employee to employer, and church member to church. For example, when someone is baptized into Christ, the leaders of the congregation ought to spend time discussing expectations with the new believer. He or she needs to understand the Lord’s expectations of a faithful life, and church leaders need to know what their new brother or sister in Christ expects of them. Any misunderstandings can thus be cleared up and they will lay a foundation for a happy relationship. The same is true when a Christian moves from one congregation to another. Starting a relationship understanding what the other party expects can make all the difference in the world!
One of the important purposes of premarital counseling is to give the future husband and wife a chance to discover in advance what each other expects out of the relationship. The job-interview process is supposed to accomplish the same purpose. An interview between leaders and the potential new member ought to be the central feature of the vital process of identifying with a local church. In every case, careful, honest communication is essential, and if both parties are reasonable, a healthy relationship built upon proper expectations will result. The principle is also true for established relationships. When parties already involved in a relationship take time to discuss their expectations, they often discover misunderstandings and can fix problems that may have been there for a long time. I pray you’ll take these things to heart, and remember what God said through the prophet Amos, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” (3:3 KJV).