Check those qualities which best describe you…
- Self-Motivated…they know how to get the ticker to tick, are willing and able to pick themselves up and carry on…even if they have to crawl!
- Sense of Resourcefulness…they feel that they will find—and God will provide–some way to accomplish their goals, no matter how apparently impossible it might seem to them and others.
- Self-Assurance…especially during the tight spots and tough times, they are able to assure themselves in spite of the criticism, discouragement, etc. It’s not that they don’t feel the pressures…they are just able to move on in spite of them.
- Persistent…they understand that victory is not to the swift, it’s to the persistent. Giving up guarantees failure. Persistence almost always guarantees victory.
- Patient Faith…they realize that God doesn’t always give instant “microwave” relief from crisis, although He certainly can and does. So, while waiting for God’s plan to unfold, they patiently keep plodding along not always knowing exactly where God will lead them or what He will give, but confident that as they keep hanging in there, God will work through them—sometimes in some unforeseen and unpredictable ways.
- Adaptable…though they never give up their vision, they are able to survive because they are flexible enough to seek, discover, and find multiple ways to reach their goals. Most importantly, such adaptability is really an openness to give God some room to do His work, too!
- Ability to incrementalize goals…they know when they have to break down larger goals into smaller goals so that they can still reach their goal, incrementally, if necessary. When one can’t possibly think they can hold on for the long-haul, they break the long-haul down into smaller increments of time. Sometimes while waiting for the entire plan of God to materialize, they just look for the simple incremental evidences that God really is working—day by day, little by little—to consummate His plan through them.
- Walk away from the impossible…they recognize that God may not give the ability, resources, etc. to use them at a given time in a particular setting.
- Willingness to mourn…yes, there are lots of tears, hurts, and reasons for loneliness. Experiencing betrayal or recognizing that one must finally “cut the cord” or “shake the dust off” is not—and should not—be a pleasant experience. To be a shepherd is to care; to have to let go is almost always painful…and sometimes almost unbearable.
- Willingness to heed God’s plan…They can place all things in God’s hands and leave whatever happens to God’s will, in spite of what the governing committee had worked out over months and years of planning. It’s even harder when God contravenes our personal plans and expectations. Sometimes, He just has to let us know—in a big way—that He’s God. As one pastor told me, remember you’re in sales, not management!
- Go where God wants them to go…wherever it might be.
- Frightened and scared…whenever we’re called by God to do His work, we sense our inability to carry out the task. We get scared–even terrified. That shouldn’t surprise us. Leaders with hope understand that no one who was ever called to God’s work didn’t experience fear.
- Unconditional belief in God’s presence with them… Without this, the fear overcomes. Sometimes leaders can’t depend on their timing, abilities, charisma, administrative prowess, etc. It’s at these times “High Hope Leaders” submit themselves completely to the promise of God’s presence to be with them…even in the valley of death, even in rejection. They trust that God will make them a pillar of iron and a fortress (cf. Jer. 1:17-19). Admittedly, sometimes High Hope Leaders don’t do this as part of an intentional strategy. Instead, they do it by default because there’s just no where else to turn.
- Can unconditionally accept—and share—God’s forgiveness with all others… Without forgiveness, there can be no hope or future. We must often forgive others who have hurt us; we must also be willing to forgive ourselves. God’s renewal cannot come unless unconditional forgiveness can become dominant in the lives of God’s people. This, of course, starts in the leader. Hope begins when leaders start to experience, live and share God’s forgiveness with others.
- Can love people unconditionally… In the movie “Camelot” King Arthur commended Lancelot for saving the queen. “You must be a good man,” King Arthur said. “If you knew me better, you wouldn’t say that,” Lancelot replied. The King responded, “I’ve learned that you can’t love people in slices. You have to love the good with the bad.”
13-15…Very high momentum
10-12…Strong sense of hopefulness
8-9 ……Hopeful, but may be stopped by occasional flashes of disappointment
4-7…….It’s been a hard to keep going
Less than 4: You’re dealing with the “Elijah Syndrome” (see I Kings 19:1ff)
Are you a “high hope” leader? How many of the above characterize you when things are good? When things are not going well? Which two items above should you prayerfully focus on to help make yourself a more effective bearer of Christian hope in your church in God’s grace?
I’ve found one of the best ways to understand “High Hope Leadership” is to do sermon studies on Biblical leaders and prophets. Try it! Do a three week series on Jeremiah 1:4 ff., Ezekiel, Elijah (I Kings 18-19), or others. It will deepen your understand, experience and recognition that God really is using you—whether you feel like it or not—and He hasn’t even begun using you yet!
Thomas F. Fischer