There’s a dangerous rumor out there that says that when you get married, your spouse will complete your every longing and desire for love, affection, and acceptance. It’s a dangerous notion because no flawed human can stand up to the weight of our God-sized expectations. Sure, my wife is pretty dang awesome, but I can’t expect her to fulfill my every deep down desire comepletely.

In ministry, we often have similar expectations for the churches we serve in. We are desperately looking for the “right fit” so that we can be fulfilled in our place of calling. We are expecting a church to be 100% supportive, encouraging and willing to go wherever we want them to go. This is an unrealistic expectation and will cause us to be discontented unless we get these expectations under check. (Please note: I love my church. It is a very healthy, supportive church. As my senior pastor says, we are not a perfect church but we are a very good church”). The sooner we can name these unrealistic expectations and get over them the quicker we can push into God as the one who can truly satisfy our hearts’ desires.

Reality Check #1 – Your senior pastor will not always be there to encourage and shepherd you deeply. This is especially true if you serve in a larger church. Your pastor’s main responsibility is the members of your congregation. So they don’t always have the time to mentor you and spend a lot of time with you.

Reality Check #2 – Parents will not always shower you with gifts and encouragement. I’ve heard the stories of youth pastors getting outrageous gifts and trips from parents and other members of the congregation. That hasn’t been my experience. If I’m sitting around waiting for that new car to validate my ministry, then I may be waiting around forever.

Reality Check #3 – Students may not thank you for all the hard work you put in. We’ve all had that feeling when you put tons of hours into an event/retreat and no one thanks you for it. That’s OK. Don’t be discouraged if a student never realizes all you give up for the sake of your calling.

There will be times when God blesses the socks off you. There will be times when a student or parent really encourages you. But if we expect and secretly demand them in order to be happy, we will quickly become bitter and unsettled in our ministry. Remember, we are working for the Lord and He alone has the power to fill our need for love and encourage