Bring Your Great Expectations to the Field

We have such high expectations when we move overseas.

Of ourselves.

Of our ministry.

Of our God.

And many people have given me advice over the years to beware of these hopes and dreams and lofty ambition.

“Keep your expectations low, and you won’t be disappointed,” they say.

“Unmet expectations lead to frustration and depression,” they say.

“Expectations are an open door to disappointment,” they say.

If you’re new to the field, you may hear some of these things, too. But let me warn you in my own little way, if I may.

Those of us who have been serving abroad a bit longer? We may have become jaded. We may have forgotten what energizes us and catapults us out of bed in the morning. We may be so far removed from the people we were when we first stepped onto the soil of our host country, that we forget.

Those expectations? They’re what moved us overseas in the first place.

At some point in time, we believed we could make a real difference. We believed in the power of ministering to other people. And we believed that the work of our Father was mightier than anything we could ask or imagine. Any we believed, deep down, that we would witness the Glory of the Master sooner rather than later.

But sooner became later for some of us, and we tired from praying. We tired from waiting on results. We tired from carrying a workload much weightier than the one we thought we’d bear.

And now we’re here, welcoming you to the field through the filter of our own baggage and our fatigue.

The truth is, we need your energy. We need your hopes and dreams and lofty ambition.

We need you to remind us of the Mighty God we serve. We need to hear what you believe can happen in this place. We need to be in the presence of your faith-filled prayers.

We need your fresh ideas, your fresh perspectives, your fresh resolve.

Just as Paul wrote to Timothy, don’t let anyone look down on you because you’re young in experience (1 Timothy 4:12). Don’t let anyone despise you because you’re new to the field. But set us an example.

Meet our burnout with your kindled flame. Bring life to our prayers with your earnest petitions. Remind us what it was like to see our neighbors, our villages, and our host nations with fresh eyes.

Be encouraged. There is much to learn, yes. But there is also much to give.

You may be new to the field, but you ARE NOT LESS THAN. And may those of us who have come before never treat you as such.

I say, BRING YOUR EXPECTATIONS. Let’s dream again together. And let’s pray to the end that those expectations will be far exceeded in your service abroad.

What are you experiencing as you attempt to find your place in your new community abroad? How are you partnering with seasoned veterans on the field? What can you learn from them? What can they learn from you?

15 Comments

  1. Michele August 6, 2017

    Love this! That energy newcomers bring… YES! We need it! And I would add this… Use that initial high (if you have it; not everyone does and that’s okay too) to learn as much as you can, meet lots of people, go wherever you’re invited! If we live like that long term, of course we’ll be ineffective and burn out. But 20 years later, I have no regrets about eating it all up that first year.

    1. Lauren Pinkston August 11, 2017

      Michele- You are so right about using that initial energy to dig deep! It’s good to engage in moderation for the long haul, but we never get that initial energy back, do we? Congrats on 20 years – you’re going something right! <3

  2. Heather Henson August 7, 2017

    Being 9 weeks new in my host country, your words have been like a breath of fresh air for me! Thank you. Thank you Jesus.

    At a time when other grandmas are planning when they’ll next care for their granddaughters I’m still working out where the post office is and how I get there… once I’ve discovered where it is I might find the little gifts to mail to my little grand-girls!

    I’d love to think I arrived here with abounding energy but in fact it took so much energy and then some just to get here. But, arriving new, I notice things that perhaps I might not see with such clarity in 5 years time.

    Your thoughts have inspired new confidence within me to stand a little straighter and ask my questions and express my wonder and intercede for this beautiful land with her people—desperate for hope when hope has been deferred again and again—longing for that day when dreams might be fulfilled.

    1. Michele August 7, 2017

      Helen, I love that you have taken this step at this stage of life! I think by energy, what we really mean is that excitement and feeling that anything can happen. Physically, mentally and emotionally the whole transition can actually be very tiring, though 20 year old often do have the advantage of being able to push that aside fairly easily. You might want not be able to go, go, go as I sort of suggested in my comment above, but YES to the questions and the expressions of wonder, and especially YES to the intercession! Sitting before the Lord and hearing his heart for this place in that fresh learning state will teach you more than anything else and keep you in it for the long haul! I’d love to know where you are, but understand if you can’t answer that question! Blessings!

      1. Lauren Pinkston August 11, 2017

        Yes again, Michele! Thanks for your comment here and extra encouragement!!

      2. Heather Henson August 11, 2017

        Thanks for your encouragement Michelle! And for the record, I’m Heather…

        1. Michele August 11, 2017

          So sorry! Why did I type Helen?! Sometimes I need more coffee before I comment! 🙂

          1. Heather Henson August 11, 2017

            There’s ok… and I noticed that I spelled your name with an extra ‘L’. My apologies for that one. By the way, my husband and I have moved to Greece… a land known for it’s Mediterranean diet… lots of olives, deliciously fresh fruit and vegetables and so much cheese! Oh, and people so precious to God’s heart. He loves them so! Blessings.

    2. Lauren Pinkston August 11, 2017

      Helen, your comments made my heart leap. How incredible for your grand-girls to have a courageous grandmother to look up to! I can only imagine their awe as they look at your life and learn from your obedient steps. You’re building a legacy, even if you are far away!

      Ask those questions…express your wonder…AMEN to praying for your dreams to be fulfilled! So encouraged by you!!

      1. Heather Henson August 11, 2017

        Thank you Lauren. Your encouragement is very welcome at a time when I’m feeling the distance between me and our family. Heather

        1. Lauren Pinkston August 11, 2017

          Heather! I’m so sorry I got your name wrong. Just reading through and totally missed it! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called Laura in emails and online…I hate that! You are known and loved here. Again, so sorry!

          1. Heather Henson August 11, 2017

            Thanks Lauren. Your words at the end of your reply are so welcome right now in this time of transition, adjustment, and so much newness (to us). In some ways, it’s been an unexpected isolating and lonely experience. Just in the last couple of days, I feel like I’ve emerged from rough seas and taken a big breath!

  3. Sarita Hartz August 11, 2017

    Thanks for this great reminder Lauren. So often when we’ve lived in a place a long time we can get cynical just by the very nature of messy life happening. But I remember that initial passion, that calling, and those larger than life dreams in the beginning. They drove me to be tenacious, to persevere and keep going. We need both. We need to be learners and gather the wisdom of those who have gone before, and we need to be big dreamers and not let our expectations be crushed by what people say can’t be done. Thanks for giving us hope! I love your writing and your thoughts. Let’s definitely stay connected. I’m over at http://www.saritahartz.com

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