hope

How do we become more influential?  It all comes down to one word-“hope.”

I have been recently reading through Psalm 119 is a slow, thorough pace that allows me to absorb a greater appreciation for the Bible.  A few days ago I came across a verse that powerfully resonated with my desire to not just be a “talking head” but a high-impact, heart-influencing kind of leader.

Here it is:

Ps 119:74 “They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word.”

Wow!  Biblical hope makes others smile when they see someone as impotent and ignorant as me.  This aligns with the often misguided but charismatic general Napoleon Bonaparte who asserted, “A leader is a dealer in hope.”

How do we become dealers of not just temporal but eternal hope?

Let me give you a few practices of highly influential, spiritual leaders found in this verse:

  1. They refuse to give in to their insecurities (“They that fear thee”).  This allows those who follow us to ultimately “fear” the Lord and His word.  If we demand their unquestioning, unchallenged respect be directed exclusively toward us, our flaws and inconsistencies will not inspire but discourage them.
  2. They invest time in fellowship, mentoring, and learning the “who” of those on their team (“when”).  Dealers of hope know that the trading of hope for influence requires large chunks of intentional, inconvenient time.  You cannot lead in your spare time.  Don’t expect to “phub” (allowing a phone notification to snub or interrupt an ongoing conversation) and be regarded as an inspiring leader.
  3. They avoid, at all costs, aloofness and isolation toward their followers (“they see me”).  To give hope requires a hands on approach that allows them to “see us.”  Memos, emails, texts, and even video-based conferencing have their limits if you want to connect on a heart level.
  4. They seek  to become “exhibit A” of what God can do in the heart and life of a very run-of-the-mill individual (“because I have”).  It is not about lecture.  It is all about our life testifying of the can-do of God.  This transforms your apparent-to-all flaws into doors of encouragement for our just-as-flawed followers.
  5. They wholeheartedly stake their success in not just eternity but relationships, vocation, and ministry exclusively upon the promises of God’s Word (“hoped in thy word”).  This kind of leader doesn’t just spiritualize Scripture; He counts on its relevance and potential in every nuance of life.  Do your followers hear about how you are implementing and building your outside work, ministry, or family life upon the Word?  This would also include broad, biblical hope in the world of others.  Nothing will kill your influence faster than having a dim view of how things will go for those around you.

Right now, despite the feebleness of its lead pastor, North Pointe Baptist Church, is experiencing steady growth and development.  If I could sum it up in one word, I would have to echo David’s choice of wording-HOPE!  People are regularly visiting and returning because they sense that we truly believe that God’s word offers substantive, transforming hope for their weak and broken hearts.  As our Easter theme expressed early this year, we truly believe “Hope Is Here” because we have the Bible and its verified hope in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We have many is our local church crazy enough to start smiling as they salivate about what God could do in OTHERS lives!

For David’s men, some went from being described as social misfits and malcontents in 1 Samuel 22:2 to “mighty men” in 2 Samuel 23.  What made the difference-they followed a man whose hopes were validated by God Himself!  It changed them.  It grew them.  It showed them what God can be counted on to do after He says it.

Stop will all the other knock off books and gimmicks in your arenas of influence.  Go back to THE Book that deals out divine hope.  Teach it.  Preach it.  Amen it.  Live it…I think you get the point that God has vividly brought to my attention through His Word.

I end with where David’s high-on-hope influence began with His followers in I Samuel 17:45-47:

“Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.

“This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.

“And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’S, and he will give you into our hands.”

Will you join me in moving away from putting our hope in clever authors, well-meaning politicians, theorizing economists, and passionate activists?  Oh that God would raise up little, smiling people like us to help others KNOW BIBLICAL HOPE!