Thursday, November 28, 2019


Expectations can be both good and bad.  There's nothing wrong with expecting a raise until it drives us to discontent with what we already make.  That thing you've been blessed to have for so many years and you thought would last forever, when it's suddenly taken away, now seems like a curse.

For years I worked at an employer that offered significant bonuses every year at Christmas.  They were based on company and personal performance, but every one knew that every year, everyone got at least some kind of bonus.  They used to give these out at a special celebration lunch for the entire office.  People would get called up in front of everyone and get showered with compliments and handed a little envelope.  We all knew what was inside.  It was this amazing, happy time with a group of content colleagues that couldn't wait for the CEO to announce that we should all just go home for the day and tell the good news to our families.

The problem came when things changed.  Ownership changed, policies changed, finances changed and the bonuses went away.  All of the sudden the happy people I used to work with changed.  They probably had a lot of good reasons.  So much was changing and the chemistry wasn't there like it used to be.  But one of the reasons I often heard was one I couldn't accept: They don't give us bonuses anymore.

I'm sure you know what my counter was to this argument: It was a bonus.

Oxford defines bonus as "something welcome and often unexpected that accompanies and enhances something that is itself good."

Unexpected?  Sounds like the bonus at my now-former employer was plenty expected.  That seemed to be the problem.

So many times our lives are buried in blessings that we forget that these things are really extra and auxiliary to the actual point of our lives.  The bonuses don't determine whether or not we're doing a good job; they're reminders the gratefulness for it.  How is it that our own gratefulness is determined by the level of someone else's?

God, our families, the people in our lives give us things daily that we don't deserve, but they're given out of love.  When it doesn't quite match our expectation, we become lost in feelings of discontent, disappointment and insecurity.  Many times it can be over things that have nothing to do with the overall direction of our lives, jobs, families and futures.

Does that mean to throw our all your expecatations?  No.  I think you should expect big things.  If not from your own life, at minimum from the grace of God.

At the same time, one of the things that's helped me most in my times of great disappointment is to learn to separate the things in my life into things that are directional and things that are bonuses.  If it's not about the direction I'm going, it's nearly always a bonus.  And if it's a bonus then it's something I can live without.

But if I do receive a bonus, I will do my best to cover that blessing with thankfulness.  Because I have certainly been buried with bonuses.

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