“Bear in mind then, that Brag is a good dog, but Holdfast is a better.”― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”― Bruce Lee
The two words set my nerve on edge: Below Expectations. I am working a short-term job which requires me to maintain validity. They judge this by randomly inserting tests in with actual work to make sure that I am responding in a consistent manner. For the last week I had been “Exceeding Expectations” and making incentive pay for my hard work. In one shift I had dropped to the danger zone, and I had no idea why because I cannot see what I have done wrong and my supervisor is not allowed to tell me. They can only offer suggestions. If I drop too low, I can be dropped from the job and possibly not invited to further job offers. I reminded God that He had provided this job and I needed wisdom to be able to continue.
Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?
Jeremiah was the verse for Monday and reminded me that not even a computer system or validity questions were too hard for God. I continued working, but the two words “Below Expectations” were always just to the left, mocking me. I clocked out early with a headache.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:9
I had to confess that I was wavering in my faith a little, especially since the two words would not go away, no matter how carefully I worked. I had lost my confidence. I prayed again and kept working.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.Romans 8:28
I could see no purpose in this mental torture, but I kept on working. There was still no change in the two words. I clocked out a little early, weary of the mental strain of trying to meet some hidden goal.
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.1 Corinthians 10:13
The next night I picked back up with those two words still lit up in orange: Below Expectations. I began to work and occasionally the system would show me that I had answered correctly, but the words refused to change. Then, I noticed that the system had not notified me of a chat message from my supervisor. It was a word of encouragement. I responded that I appreciated it.
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.Psalm 91:4
A little while later I received a phone call from the supervisor. He said that he had no idea why the system kept showing “Below Expectations.” From His perspective, I was doing excellent work. He could see everything I had done from His side of the system, while all I could see were the two words “Below Expectations.” His encouragement got me back on track and a day later I was back on “Exceeds Expectations.”
In life, sometimes all we ever see about us are evidence that we don’t meet up to the world’s standards. The truth is it’s not the world’s standards we have to meet; it is God’s standards. He knew we could never meet them, so He sent His only Son to bridge the gap for us. The enemy uses comparison and discouragement to try and distract us from doing what God has called us to do. God doesn’t require perfection, only a willing heart. He’s not looking for someone who talks a good talk; He is looking for someone who holds fast to Him.
So, when the world tries to distract you by throwing comparisons in your face, remember to stay focused on God and hold fast.