God has put the words “rising expectations” in front of us many times this year. It’s been a sort of catch phrase all year long. And the words have been brought to life again recently at a Bible study.
When it’s hot outside, people sometimes misbehave. They are tired and grumpy. But on this day, things were just out of control. I had to stop Bible study repeatedly for rude interruptions and name calling. I asked for help. I asked people what I should do. I got lots of suggestions.
Many said I needed to be tougher. Others said I needed to have more rules. Some wanted me to exclude some clients (who are often higher maintenance). None of this really set with me. I went home and prayed for God to show me the solution. I spent a couple of restless days and nights, but the answer came.
We have added one rule: we expect you to give us your personal daily best. When you can’t behave that way, we want to meet with you individually but we ask you to leave our group event for the day. What does it mean?
It’s personal best behavior. That means it varies from person to person. Some of our clients are lower functioning. So their personal best may be lower in some ways than others. Some of our clients are doing great but they can still challenge themselves to give us their personal best behavior.
It’s daily best behavior. We all have ups and downs. Right after a breakup, we can’t give the same personal best as on a day when everything is going right. But we can challenge ourselves to be our best on any given day.
Best isn’t perfect. Nobody would be around if we needed everybody to behave perfectly.
Why would we want this? Almost all our clients agree that they want to get better. Most want to get off the street eventually, if not now. But everyone agrees that the street (and indeed the world) doesn’t always bring out the best in us. We want to provide a place where that’s different. We want to offer an environment that is encouraging. One that builds people up. And a community that joyfully and lovingly holds you accountable to raising your expectations of yourself.
We’ve already asked people to leave. We’re starting with very concrete external things like breaking or messing something up intentionally. And we’ve already had to ask people to apologize for name calling or leave. It won’t be easy but we will set a deeper cultural expectation for our events. We believe that as our clients expect better things in our environment, our clients will also expect better things in their lives and in themselves.
The payoff is already hinted at. Three times we’ve already heard clients use the phrase with one another, “That’s not your personal best.” Twice it was successfully done to encourage someone to make a better choice.
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