Strong Leaders Learn to Overcome Disappointment

Strong Leaders Learn to Overcome Disappointment

When I was in high school in the early 1970’s, it was an “in” thing to sneak up on people and punch them in the arm with your middle finger bent over into a pointed position. This would cause the muscle in the arm to form a bump and begin to twitch uncontrollably. Kids would grab their arms to stop the twitching but it didn’t help. We called this “Frogging” a person. The worst part was that the next day your arm was sore. In fact, in a bad “frogging” your arm could be sore for a week.

Life has a way of “frogging” us. It sneaks up on us and inflicts the “frogs” of disappointment. We don’t see it coming, but in some cases, the pain remains with us our entire lives. This is what a spirit of disappointment is: the long-term pain of unfulfilled expectations. And it can prevent your ability to lead well to develop. Instead of leading from a place of confidence and strength, we lead from a place of fear and defensiveness. It’s important for leaders to learn how to overcome these disappointments.

In the dictionary, to disappoint means, ” to fail to satisfy the hopes or expectations of.” Basically it’s unmet expectations. We become disappointed when we have expectations that go unsatisfied. When you examine the etymology for the word “disappointment” and find how the word was derived, we learn that it means “to separate from appointment.”

Sometimes events in our lives don’t happen as we think they should and our expectations go unmet. We feel let down. Our dreams, expectations, goals and hopes miss the appointment that we thought they were going to make, resulting in disappointment.

Unfortunately, a lot of people carry disappointment with them for their entire lives. They don’t make new resolutions or set new goals because they don’t want to be let down again. They live from a place of  fear. They allow a spirit of disappointment to put a ceiling on their lives.

Disappointments that are allowed to “fester” can cause us to possess disabling beliefs about the world, ourselves, and others. These beliefs hurt us and those around us. When we carry disappointment with us, we over time begin to identify with the hurts from our past rather than hope for our future.

Proverbs 13:12 in The Living Bible translation says: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the dreams come true at least, there is life and joy.”

Take a moment to really think about that. When your body is ill, everything around you looks gloomy. That’s what happens to us when our hope is deferred. Our hearts get sick when we allow disappointment to stay with us. We fail to function fully because we are carrying the hurt of unfulfilled expectations.

What does Proverbs 13:12 mean when it says that hope deferred makes the heart sick? Here, to be sick means, “to be rubbed or worn away.” Whether it’s your carpet or your socks, if something is rubbed enough, eventually the threads will begin to show and it will become weak.

The Bible says that hope deferred rubs or wears away at us. It rubs at our belief system and our expectations until we are fragile. We carry disappointment and hurt with us. It keeps rubbing away until finally it doesn’t matter how good any news is; we still see it as bad. The threads break—your heart is sick.

It’s unhealthy to live our lives with so much fear and disappointment from past events, that every time something negative happens, we cringe. We cringe because we have made ourselves fragile. The disappointments are constantly wearing away at our hearts and our beliefs. You can’t fulfill your calling while carrying hurt, disappointment and a sick heart.

We have all been disappointed. And the older we get, the more opportunities there are to be let down. As the saying goes, “Life happens.” In Matthew 7, Jesus taught a parable that deals with how “Life happens.” The same torrential rains and floods (disappointments) came upon two different houses. But even though both houses were presented with the same challenges, they held up differently because their foundations were not the same. Some people can experience a flood in their life and it rolls off of them like water off of a duck’s back. Others however, have to work hard at not drowning.

When you have expectations and they’re met, renewed energy and life invigorates you. That’s why it’s important to have new, fresh expectations. We can talk of hopes and dreams and goals, but unless we address the disappointment in our lives, we will carry it with us into the new goals or dreams we have, causing them to be flawed and weak. As a leader, you need to be casting vision. Make sure that vision is strong.

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Billy Epperhart
Billy Epperhart
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