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Gary Chapman: Hopeful Leadership

Posted: 11/8/17 at 12:25pm. Post by Gary Chapman

My personal preference is to avoid leaders who offer nothing but doom and gloom. Please don’t misunderstand me: I don’t have my head in the sand. We live in a tough world; ours is a time with a ton of problems. The daily news is seldom good. Even so, I’m easily frustrated by those who seem convinced the cause of Christ is lost. All that’s left for us Christians is to play out the string and wait for Christ’s return.

Instead I look to leaders who continue to proclaim hope instead of despair. I want to be that kind of leader. I’m not talking about wishful thinking or an optimism that hinges on what you and I are able to accomplish. I am talking about faith in a God who still longs to see his Kingdom established on this earth. It’s a confidence in God’s sovereignty—an assured belief that he’s still in control and has something better in mind for his broken creation than what currently exists. Our world desperately needs that hope. As those called to leadership, we’re to be proactive partners with him in making that a reality.

So, what does “hopeful leadership” look like? Here are just a few thoughts. Hopeful leaders:

  1. Refuse to live in the past and long for the “good old days.” God has moved on, and we’re not going back!
  2. Cast a vision for God’s people that represents more than simply getting through next Sunday. Hopeful leaders find a higher purpose in what they do. It’s more than just a job or a way to make a living.
  3. Work more on developing a positive attitude in themselves before worrying about the attitudes of others. They realize that modeling faith in God is contagious.
  4. Avoid those persons Jon Gordon refers to as “energy vampires.” These are the people who literally suck the life out of you with their criticism and pessimism. Hopeful leaders seek those who will provide constructive, but truthful, feedback.
  5. Determine not to be a victim of circumstances. They understand the choice is theirs. They will either be a victim or an overcomer when difficult circumstances inevitably come.
  6. Appreciate the power of the words they use. Where others see nothing but problems, hopeful leaders talk about challenges and seek solutions. Rather than focusing on what can’t be done, they prefer to talk about what we CAN do—together. They talk a lot about “team” and “we,” rather than “they.” Instead of asking why did this happen or why did that not work, they ask what can we learn from this and where do we go from here. Words are more than mere semantics; they communicate either hope or despair.
  7. Realize that words have the power to tear down or to build up. Hopeful leaders choose to affirm more than criticize.
  8. Express their belief and God’s belief in those they lead. Seeing divine potential, they call out others as leaders for God in “their corner of the world.”
  9. Recognize they can’t tackle the world’s problems by themselves. They turn to others for creative and innovative solutions.
  10. Resist any temptation to use persons to further their own agenda. Taking a long-term view; they see the value of investing themselves in others, intentionally growing and equipping others who will be Kingdom difference-makers.

Call me Pollyannaish if you want. But, I choose to believe Jesus when he said, “I will build my church and hell will not prevail. The outcome is assured.” With that promise and God in our corner, why wouldn’t we have hope?!

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Dr. Gary A. Chapman was involved in leadership training with the BGAV prior to his retitrement. He is a certified life coach who lives in Roanoke and is the author of Discovering My Niche.
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