Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Great Expectations

" When you expect things to happen -- strangely enough -- they do happen."

-John Pierpont Morgan

About a week ago, Mike and I took a trip to Maine.  We had a lot of things going on during that trip - and so many people to try and see! - but one of the main reasons we went back to Maine that weekend was to be able to attend the high school graduation of a very special group of teens.   Most of the World Youth Day group that I blogged about before were graduating over this weekend in June, and we wanted to be there to support them.

As I sat watching each of them cross the stage to receive their diploma, I got to thinking about expectations.    After returning to Arizona, that word - expectation - has shown up in multiple conversations, emails, phone calls, blogs, books.  You name the media format, and it seems like that word has made an appearance in some way.  

Now, I know I'm biased, but I truly believe that this group of teens is and was an exceptional one.    I sat there, trying to figure out what made them so extraordinary, and it hit me: 

They were expected to be.

This group of teens were expected - by their parents, by me, by their school - to be extraordinary human beings.   The bar was set pretty high for them:  they were expected to do their best to live an authentically Catholic life, and to excel at school and extracurricular activities by all those who surrounded them.

If there was a problem....they were expected to try to find a way to solve it.

If there was a choice to be made between vice and virtue....they were expected to reach for virtue.

If they witnessed a wrong....they were expected to try to make it a right.

And you know what?

They did it.   Sure, there were stumbles here and there along the way, but overall, these teens did it.  They excelled in every way possible, and they lived their faith, as best they could.  They encouraged those around them to do the same.

Now, I can't take any credit for any good that they did.   I was only the one trusted to supervise them a few hours a week and a weekend-long retreat here and there.  Their parents, families, and community are the real reason for their achievements.   But as I sat there, watching them leave high school behind, I realized that although all of their families came from different backgrounds and different resources, they had one thing in common:  they expected excellence.

There are some people out there who argue that expecting excellence is dangerous, that it sets one up for future failures and a lifetime of guilt.  I disagree, wholeheartedly.   Without high expectations - without "raising the bar" - how will we achieve excellence?

If we set the bar too low.....will we never leave the ground?

I expect a lot out of my kids, I realize that.   I expect them to aspire to be the best them that they can possibly be, because I know they can do it.  I have faith in their abilities, because they are a reflection of a all-perfect God.    For some of them, that might mean academic excellence.  For others, that might mean athletic achievements.  For others, it might be living as the hands and feet of Christ.  Only God knows what He has called each of us to....but it is up to us to desire to and aspire to living out that calling to the best of our ability.

How can we do that if we are only reaching for a passing grade?   How can we be the person God has called us to be if we aren't looking up towards that goal?  

When you expect mediocrity, you will never get great things. 

God has gifted each of us with amazing talents and abilities, including you.   We are called to use those gifts to glorify Him, and by doing so, allow Him to work amongst us.   

Do you try to meet that expectation?

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