Expectations vs Expectation

January 09, 2022
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TeenPact’s Alumni Events each offer unique growth experiences. They give you opportunities for growth like running for office at National Convention, and powerful, perspective-shifting experiences like worshipping in front of the Lincoln Memorial at Back to DC. One Alumni Event that was especially pivotal in my spiritual journey was Congress 2018 – my first Alumni Event that I attended outside of National Convention. I had experienced the “spiritual highs” of several NatCons, so I walked into Congress 2018 with great expectations. At the event, I participated in the Media track and experienced the thrill of being a real reporter. I volunteered to be an anchor for the first evening session, thinking that if I went out of my comfort zone, I would somehow be rewarded.

The problem was, God and I had disparate ideas of what a “reward” was.

After filming the evening broadcast and then showing it during evening session, I was disappointed because it didn’t go how I wanted it to go. People weren’t as engaged as I had hoped. My jokes fell flat. I had assumed that since I stepped out of my comfort zone in faith, God would have rewarded me with the affirmation and praise of my peers. I was upset that this didn’t happen. Thankfully, God had other plans that would bless me far beyond external, public praise. I continued on through the week, not really willing to go out of my comfort zone again because, in my mind, it wasn’t guaranteed to be “worth it.” Due to this mindset, I began to feel stuck. I got spiritually stagnant. I felt distant from my Father. I had given up on being intentional, so I wasn’t growing anymore. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with one of the staffers that the Lord revealed to me how I had been going out of my comfort zone to serve myself, and not Him. God used that realization to teach me not to box Him in with my expectations, but rather to wait on Him with expectation.


One of my favorite parts of Congress is the last night, the banquet when the staff team serves dinner to the students. I decided to sit down next to someone I hadn’t met yet. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but at the time it was far out of my comfort zone. I told the Lord that I was going to leave my comfort zone without any conditions or expectations.

It was crazy to realize that when you have no expectations, God will show up in ways you could have never dreamed of in the first place!

The table I sat at ended up being full of people I had never met. I don’t think any two of us had spoken before; nevertheless, we immediately clicked and could not stop making each other laugh! Though this testimony might seem small, I was able to experience the freedom and joy that comes with open-handed expectation. Expectations project what you think or what you want to happen, while expectation is approaching God with open hands, eager to see what He has planned. Expectation prepares our hearts to receive what He is doing with joy. The Lord used Congress 2018 to show me how I had boxed Him in with my expectations, which is a lesson that continues to mold me today.

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views of TeenPact Leadership Schools. To learn more about our Vision & Values, please visit teenpact.com/vision-values/.