As is true of many words, expectations may be celebrated or mourned. Goals are valuable. Their absence might explain why some remain in a neutral state of mediocrity.
It's sort of like child. Paul told us to put away childish things only after Jesus urged us to become like children. Context is key. Mood is major.
It is a strange thing how the word expectations has been used in negative connotations lately. Relationships in both home and in the church are suffering deep strain because some in the picture have higher expectations. While these toss forward this word with supreme delight their spirit is one of negligence.
From this framework, expectations is used to hold control (mean-spirited and aggressive) over mates or ministries. The holder believes it is the correct word; but it has become a villainous trap to kill life in their settings. In this context expectations are scheming and devious as they are used to regulate circumstances as well as people.
Brennan Manning, speaking of Israel's rejection of the mission of the real Messiah, said, They looked for an unreal messiah of their own making and found a real one of God's making---but only after they were dispossessed of all their illusions and expectations. Expectations are our subtle attempts to control God and manipulate mystery. We can get so wrapped up in them that when Jesus breaks into our lives in new and surprising ways, we neither recognize Him nor hear His message.
The church has expectations to grow. This is good to a point; until we are found as humans trying to manage the estate of the Divine. The church has largely spent its time stripping God of both mystery and marvel by packaging Him in explainable terms. Thus, very much struggle.
Expectations from God's free creativity is a far cry from our stingy and meager calculations. May we open more to the Spirit of Him whom God sent.