By Bill Gaultiere
The hope you need is not in a vaccine, “back to normal” church, or anything visible — it’s in the presence of Jesus risen! The people you care for and lead are desperate for this hope today.
When I was a Pastor of Spiritual Formation, Barbie, on my staff nicknamed me Eeyore. She smiled, “It’s because you’re so witty and lovable!” But it was also because I focused on the problems that needed to be fixed and at times got grumpy.
I wanted to be more joyful like Tigger — that was Barbie. So when I taught classes in church I had her stand in the back of the room and hold up a sign of a huge smiling face! That’s how I learned to smile more.
Was I just pasting a smile on my face to be a more effective speaker?
No. I was practicing fixing my eyes on the unseen blessing of Jesus risen from the dead, shining with glory, and present to love me and the people I was ministering to! I was cultivating hope.
Since I started venturing out in my speaking ministry with hopeful faith in the Lord, I’ve seen time and again that the unseen Spirit warms our hearts, gives us life-changing insights, and energizes community and mission.
This is the power of hope. But what is hope? It’s often misunderstood or diluted.
Hope is not wishful thinking or pumping up optimism. Hope is the anticipation of unseen good from God. It’s the spring of faith, love, and all blessings and virtues (Col. 1:5).
In the Bible Paul is a Pastor of Hope. In a time of suffering worse than most anyone is experiencing today, he beams, “Since through God’s mercy we have this ministry we do not lose heart” (2 Cor. 4:1). To have heart is to have hope and the courage it inspires.
How were things going in his ministry? He was hard-pressed in his church planting work, often perplexed about what to do, continually criticized and persecuted, and even struck down when he survived being stoned to death (2 Cor. 4:8-9).
Where’s God’s mercy in those sufferings? Where’s the hope?
It’s in Jesus risen from the dead and present with him in the unseen world of God’s kingdom. That’s the glorious hope that Paul fixed the eyes of his heart on as he preached, talked with people, worked his fingers to the bone making tents, and endured leadership fatigue and being treated badly (2 Cor. 4:14-18).
What steps can you take to live and lead with more hope?
1. Seek empathy
The typical approach to being hopeful is to deny emotions of discouragement or doubt and generate positivity. In contrast, empathy between friends names, validates, and cares for feelings to facilitate the friendship with God that nourishes and strengthens your ability to love others well (2 Cor. 5:20).
2. Meditate on Bible passages
Feeding on God’s word also increases your hope, especially if you set aside extended time to “come away” with Jesus in quiet solitude (Col. 3:16; Mark 6:31).
3. Look for God to “show up”
To grow in hope one more step is essential: Follow God’s call to do something good that you can’t do in your own strength, but only by depending on the unseen Spirit. Jesus will guide, provide, and strengthen in surprising ways (Heb. 11:1, 8-12).
You can find more resources to help strengthen your ministry and relationship with Jesus at Soul Shepherding’s website. If you are interested in receiving more empathy in your life, consider meeting with one of our Spiritual Directors to support you in the important ministry work you are doing.
This article is submitted by David Rimoldi of Soul Shepherding. Soul Shepherding is a Missio Nexus member. Member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.