I’ve read articles about lead pastors and church deacon boards who, when interviewing potential new pastoral staff members, will not hire anyone who has not been through at least one significant, life-changing hardship in their life. Regardless of the candidate’s education and experience, these church leaders desired to have people on their team who know and understand adversity personally and the journey of perseverance to victory.
As I’ve mulled over the implications of this, I can see the validity in their stance. As key spiritual leaders, pastors have a distinct calling to be deliverers of hope. And how can someone genuinely share hope to a hope deprived world unless they truly have it within themselves. You’ve probably met others who has overcome a difficult season of life and are now walking in personal victory in that area. Most likely they are passionate people because of the hope that has developed within them. According to the bible, Hope is developed through Endurance (the act of persevering).
‘Now that we have been put right with God through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. He has brought us by faith into this experience of God’s grace, in which we now live. And so we boast of the hope we have of sharing God’s glory! We also boast of our troubles, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance brings God’s approval, and his approval creates hope. This hope does not disappoint us, for God has poured out his love into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit, who is God’s gift to us.’ – Romans 5:1-5 (GNT)
In essence, what lead pastors and church deacon boards are communicating is that they understand that the local church, rooted in Christ, is the hope of the world. And in-order to be effective to that calling, it’s leaders need to be able to deliver its message, not just from a basis of ‘book’ knowledge (just being able to quote the bible), but from the heart. Life is hard and the journey difficult. But the local church and those who have endured and have the victory within them have the answer. It’s hope.
Psychologists have studied people who have lived in and through the midst of extremely challenging circumstances. What seems to separate those who survive and those who give up is, well, hope These studies have shown that generally speaking, we can literally lose everything we’d consider valuable in our life, to the point where it seems there isn’t much left to live for. But, even if there still remains a small flicker of hope within us; that things can and will get better… that our victory is just around the corner – that in itself can be enough to help us push through; to help us endure.
‘When hope is crushed, the heart is crushed, but a wish come true fills you with joy.’ – Proverbs 13:12
Dictionary.com defines hope as – to look forward to something with desire and reasonable confidence.
Synonyms of hope include – believe, desire, trust
In-order for this hope to be relevant to a broken world however, it must be communicated in such a way that is genuine, real, un-puffed up and applicable. That is best delivered through a person who has walked in the listener’s ‘shoes’. That is why personal testimonies, our own stories, are so powerful. They are tangible and not a fairy tale. The pain is raw and real. The hurt is genuine, and the scars are visible. But the beauty in all of it is that a broken world can relate to brokenness restored through perseverance. A shattered life can relate to devastation rebuilt through a hope that does not disappoint.
So, the next time we get in our minds that our ‘junk’ or our difficult life makes us unusable and unworthy, the simple fact that we are still alive and kickin’, means that we have hope within us. And as the scripture above states, ‘hope does not disappoint.’ And if we truly want to make a difference in the lives of others – in our families, our communities and around the world; to see brokenness restored and devastated lives rebuilt, we need to have the same mindset as those church leaders who are determined to be communicators of hope. People that have hope burning within them have their own personal, powerful stories of God’s grace, deliverance and love.
‘They defeated him (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb (Jesus) and by their testimony (stories of hope);…’ – Revelation 12:11a (NLT)
People around us need to hear our stories and the hope that is growing within. Many struggle daily with finding any hope at all. Regardless of what yours or my story is, there are others who need to hear it. The things we do or have struggled with are real and others are there too. God helps us and gives us hope so that not only we are restored, but so that we can help others find restoration in him as well. Really, we are all simple ‘beggars’ – one, just trying to help another know where to find ‘bread’ (hope).
Personally, this is why I write. It’s a great tool to deliver hope. That’s why I wrote the Doggy Bag Devotional (www.doggybagdevo.com). I have had opportunities to share and tell my stories in a public setting, but I have found for me, writing is a primary means of sharing hope with others. For you, it may be on stage or coaching or music or teaching or parenting… or whatever. Bottom line – if you have hope burning within you, God wants you to let that ‘fire’ out. There are people around you that need to feel it’s warm embrace.
‘Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the merciful Father, the God from whom all help comes! He helps us in all our troubles, so that we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we ourselves have received from God. Just as we have a share in Christ’s many sufferings, so also through Christ we share in God’s great help. If we suffer, it is for your help and salvation; if we are helped, then you too are helped and given the strength to endure with patience the same sufferings that we also endure. So our hope in you is never shaken; we know that just as you share in our sufferings, you also share in the help we receive.’ – 2 Corinthians 1:3-7