Overcoming Limiting Preconceived Expectations

Overcoming Limiting Preconceived Expectations

Preconceived Expectations

By Steve Backlund

Before I get into this teaching, let me share some exciting, upcoming Igniting Hope happenings: 

Now, let’s talk about preconceived expectations. Many miss what God is doing and saying because of preconceived notions of how He will manifest or speak. Certainly, there are principles and truths from Scripture that will never be altered, but the Lord seems to frequently confound the supposed wise with some of the things He does and some of the people He uses. Just consider these biblical examples; 

  • A non-Jewish prostitute is in the genealogy of Jesus (Joshua 6; Matthew 1:5)
  • Money to pay taxes came from a fish’s mouth (Matthew 17:27)
  • A miracle feeding 5,000 started from a little boy (John 6:9)
  • A nation-saving victory over a giant came from a teenage boy (1 Samuel 17)
  • Two uneducated men were the key to starting a worldwide revival (Acts 4:13)
  • A minister was instantly transported from one location to another  to continue sharing the gospel (Acts 8:39-40)
  • Samuel almost missed anointing David as king because he thought his brother, Eliab, looked like a king (1 Samuel 16:6-7)
  • A donkey spoke out loud (Numbers 22:28)

If we are not open to God doing things “outside of the box” of our past experience or preconceived expectations, we will miss a lot of what God is doing. This almost happened to a man named Naaman, a commander in the Syrian army in the Old Testament. He had leprosy and was told he could be healed by the God of Israel through the prophet Elisha, but he almost missed his healing because of wrong expectations of how it would happen. 

Naaman goes to see this prophet, but Elisha does not even come out of his house to speak to him. Instead, he sends a message to him to dip in the Jordan River seven times. 

“But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, ‘Indeed, I said to myself, “He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.” Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?’ So he turned and went away in a rage” (2 Kings 5:11-12).

Fortunately, Namaan’s servant helped him overcome his limiting beliefs, and he got healed. As I think of this story, I am struck by how many times I have had wise people in my life open my eyes to understand God’s ways more clearly. I have also been used to help people not automatically trust their first reaction to what God may or not be doing. 

Here are some suggestions for how we can lessen being limited by our own preconceived expectations:

  1. Believe we  have a “Sons of Issachar” anointing to understand the times and season we  are in (1 Chronicles 12:32)
  2. Understand God is not always logical in what He will have us do, how He operates, or who He will use
  3. Be a spiritual experimenter and try different spiritual routines
  4. Take risks in our spiritual journey
  5. Believe there is always a bigger purpose in God’s leading than we first might think
  6. Don’t automatically trust an initial negative reaction to something happening
  7. In spiritual matters we  do not understand, first seek to understand before seeking to be understood
  8. Ask God to open our spiritual eyes to see what Holy Spirit is really doing
  9. Recognize that when we  obey God, there are reasons for our obedience that are way beyond what we  think
  10. Invite others to speak prophetically into our lives and process to share what they see God is doing in a way we might not perceive on our own

We are not called to be just logical, but we are called to be supernatural! As we let go of our preconceived pictures and ideas of how God needs to move and what He must do through us, we begin to make room for Him to move the way He wants; and He always has a better way! Psalm 37:4 tells us to delight ourselves in the Lord, and He will give us the desires of our hearts. As we delight in how big He is, how lovely He is, how wise He is, and how brilliant He is, we begin to make space for Him to move on our behalf in a bigger way than we could ever imagine on our own.

For more on topics like this, listen to my podcast by clicking the link below.


Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.

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