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The Disappointment Gap…Don’t Be a Settler

The Disappointment Gap…Don’t Be a Settler

“Don’t be a Settler” commercials have been funny and frequent of late.
Settling: The “other way” of dealing with the Disappointment Gap.
Settling: The Lowering of Future Expectations to Match Past Experience.
The Disappointment Gap evaporates when we artificially lower Expectations to match our Experience.
It’s like the Good News no longer sounds like good news even in our own ears, let alone to a world that increasingly views the Church like out of date “settlers” in a 21st century world.

Here’s my bold statement:

There’s an epidemic of churches (large, small, tired, happy, new, old…take your pick) that otherwise believe in God who has altered history (and our own eternities!) and works the miraculous, that have chosen to “settle” with little or no expectation that God can actually use them on mission in their territories or towns or neighborhoods any longer.

They are no longer:
• humbled before a sending God.
• humbled before the scope of His mission .
• humbled by their own human inability to live out the mission.
Too harsh? Let me back down a bit with some less absolute “I Wonders.”
I wonder if we pretended too long to be in a “Come to Church” culture that now finds us lost in a Mission Field world that’s plentiful all around us.

I wonder if our own past experience should be more deeply complemented with remembering farther back to the Gospels and the life of Jesus before lowering future expectations.

I wonder if we should go to our boards and go to our leadership teams and ask each other: “Have we solved the disappointment gap by settling and should we repent?”

I wonder if our natural “do the same thing and expect a different result” reflex should be complemented with a small experimentation space of trying “new things in new ways” to engage our communities with the Gospel of Jesus. 

I wonder if the young leaders sprinkled around our churches can contribute to a new season of collaboration and creativity that overtakes the common attitude of comparison and competition.

And, I wonder if we’ve been conformed to a mindset by the people we’re around to simply settle for low expectations and cease to imagine that God might be prepared to do more in this new season.

It’s a painfully difficult season for lots of leaders in lots of places. It’s a season and a calling that can be toxic to our own well being and toxic to marriage and family.

So, could I ask you to do a couple of things this week?
• Ask your spouse (if you’re married): How are we doing? Settling? And, do we need to do something about how we’re doing?
• Ask your leadership team/peers/board: Have we solved the disappointment gap by settling and have we lowered expectations on what God is calling and capable of doing?
• Ask yourself: Most changes start with me before they start anywhere else. Does something need to start with me?

The path forward for most of us will not be linear nor easy but I think I can promise you it will be rich. (We see leaders in PLI learning communities confront uncomfortable realities and embrace wonderful promises all the time and wind their way forward.)

So, I can hear the conversation with your partners or peers or board meeting already. “Well, how do we know that if we do _______ that ‘it’ will work.”
ANSWER: You won’t know if “it” will work. And very likely on the journey (with “it” working or not) God will do something in us and maybe through us that both surprises us and prepares us!
Thank you! You’re most likely a leader. You know the pain and emotion and the discomfort of most of the above. Thanks for longing to see people responding with faith to the Gospel of a Savior who offered His life as a victorious sacrifice on our behalf.

Rev. Dr. Jock Ficken

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