It was an extraordinary conversation. The local Children’s Council was visiting our Hope Mountain campus. The problem, it seemed, was that
we are creating “unrealistic expectations” in the lives of former street kids.
- are well-clothed
- attend private schools
- have high-level vocational training programs
- live as families
They come to expect that their lives will be different than those of their parents and the kids who ran the streets with them. They somehow believe that their education, the social skills they learn, their vocational skills—and their dreams—will lead to better lives.
But, according to the Children’s Council, hoping for a better life is unrealistic because everyone knows that street kids will always be, well, street kids. So stop letting these kids attend good schools. Put them back in the same drug-infested, violent environments they came from.
And most, most important, stop talking to them about what they can become.
You are born in the favela; you die in the favela.
It is frustrating that we even have to respond to such nonsense. We do not create false, unrealistic expectations for the children rescued from the streets; we simply create expectations.
Or perhaps… we create hope.
We have seen newly-created hope come to fruition in the lives of children time and time again. Good jobs, stable living situations, active faith, a home. And most important, a good life for the children who will someday come into their lives—the next generation—breaking the cycle of despair, no expectations, hopelessness.
We have learned with these orphans—these street kids—that you get what you expect.
But we have also learned that expectations come with obligations: We cannot expect their lives to be transformed unless we provide them with the tools of transformation.
Good schools, loving families, structure, discipline, preparation for lives after their time with us. And always, the transforming power of God’s love in their lives.
This lesson can easily translate to my own life, too—and yours.
Expectations and environments create outcomes. We get what we invest; we get what we expect.