November 18, 2016
There is a pervasive pessimism in the air. Its been fermenting for a while. In the interactions I've been having these last number of months, people are growing somewhat uneasy with the state of world affairs. This amidst the countering data that our world is actually getting better instead of worse.
But better for who? Whether its the state of the economy, our environment, the political climate, world affairs, or the perception of moral and ethical decline, there is a growing sense of uneasiness in our culture which seems to threaten all we hold dear.
Now, I don't like taking the posture of an alarmist but I believe there is one vital component missing that makes the present reality appear all the more dire. Though it's simple, the lack of it is evidence of its importance for fuelling our lives during difficult and apparent downturns.
What is it you ask? It's that intangible thing called hope. Hope is not easy to define, but we all can tell when something is infused with it or when something is devoid of it. Its like love, we all know it when we see it and equally know it when its gone. Hope is not something that is easily manufactured, even though politicians and social activists tend to throw the term around with loose abandon.
Hope, though its a prevailing feeling and attitude, is rooted in substance, reality, and change that is palpable for the better. Few leaders have the ability to generate real hope. We all talk about the importance of vision, coupled with the character and competence of a leader, but rarely do we talk about the leverage we gain when hope is the prevalent ingredient in a leader's arsenal.
Hope is that quality that infuses the most difficult of circumstances with just enough light to prompt us forward into the darkness. I once read that people who feel hopeless soon become helpless, and helplessness over time soon turns into despair.
When it comes to hope I'm not talking about some abstract, holographic, undefined concept that cannot be qualified by experience. Hope gives us the potential to say, "If we do this, things will be better because...," or "Imagine all the people we could help if...," or "When we're finished it will mean there will no longer be..."
It becomes a future worth reaching for, a battle worth fighting for, a reality worth creating. It has the potential to heal relational wounds, bind up the broken-hearted, and confer grace to an otherwise graceless situation or problem.
And its the reason I'm thankful to be part of the church of Jesus Christ. If there is one undeniably message that should resonate from the platform of a church is this central message of hope that is rooted in the Good News of Jesus. Here are five reasons we need to be purveyors of hope as leaders.
1. Hope gives us a strength beyond ourselves.
We all have struggles and we all experience difficulties, but hope is what motivates perseverance. It causes us to dig deeper and reach farther, even when energy and strength seem depleted. A leader who can cast a future rooted in hope, breeds an environment of communal purpose that stretches people beyond their individual weaknesses.
2. Hope makes the valley's more tolerable.
All plans will hit a low point. We've all experienced the valley where things do not appear to be working and the vision is gaining little traction. Most experienced leaders know to expect this. Often, this is precisely the point where most give up even though its been proven by many studies that this is also the point of greatest breakthrough. We just need to be patient, and hope is one of the primary ingredients of patience.
3. Hope energizes gratitude and encouragement.
Hope has a way of bringing into focus the successes and victories, however minor. In turn, they tend to prompt us to respond with thankfulness for what has been achieved and embolden us to continue forward.
4. Hope values people above everything else.
There are plenty of visions that are essentially nothing more than a business plan. You may want the plan to succeed but that's not the hope I'm talking about. Hope is something implanted in people's lives and transferred organically. People can sense if they are simply an object in your scheme or a vital part of the difference you're trying to make.
5. Hope exchanges our strength for another's
As a believer the concept of hope is a big part of my faith. Hope, at least defined biblically is more rooted in the promises of God as opposed to wishful thinking. There is a reality to hope that transcends the experiences around us that may prompt us to believe otherwise.
Culturally we may be experiencing doubt, but hope has never really been a human byproduct, it is essentially a God one. Until you understand this, and truly make it part of your leadership perspective, you'll continue to live life purely on the horizontal plane and wring your hands at every newscast you hear."
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