What Happens When People Lose Hope?

When spouses lose hope, they give up on their marriage. Parents give up on their teens. Leaders give up on their people. Healthy emotions like contentment and peace are replaced with the toxic emotions of confusion, shame, worry, and disappointment. In short, it’s impossible to be spiritually, psychologically, emotionally, or relationally healthy when we’re gripped by discouragement.

Howard Hendricks gave a gripping definition of discouragement: “Discouragement is the anesthetic the devil uses on a person just before he reaches in and carves out his heart.” He’s right. When people lose hope, they lose their ability to dream for the future. Despair replaces joy. Fear replaces faith. Anxiety replaces prayer. Insecurity replaces confidence. Tomorrow’s dreams are replaced by nightmares. It’s a lousy way to live.

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The Greatest Gift You Can Ever Give

Some wise person once said that we can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air—but not a single second without hope. And that is why . . .

  • the greatest gift leaders can give their people—hope.
  • the greatest gift parents can give their children—hope.
  • the greatest gift teachers can give their students—hope.
  • the greatest gift coaches can give their athletes—hope.

It’s also why . . . Continue reading

The Most Important Question

Some conversations change your life. You just don’t expect them to be with one of your kids.

Several years ago, my daughter, Leslie, came home from school and said, “Dad, I have to write a paper on a leader.”

“Yeah?” I said.

“I picked you, and the teacher said it was okay,” she said.

Yeah . . .” I said, growing wary.

Without hesitating, she laid it out before me. “I have twenty questions. This is going to be at least a two-hour interview, and you have to answer them all honestly.”

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How Do You Become a Person of Hope?

Becoming a person with hope—defeating discouragement and building a new future—is always a result of raising seven hope factors, which I call The Seven:

  1. Recharge your batteries. Nobody does well running on empty.
  2. Raise your expectations. Life really can be far greater than anything you’ve known.
  3. Refocus on the future. Don’t look back; concentrate on what you can become.
  4. Play to your strengths. Be yourself; everyone else is taken.
  5. Refuse to go it alone. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto.
  6. Replace burnout with balance. Variety refreshes, restores, and reenergizes.
  7. Play great defense. Learn to respond to bad news in great ways.

Building The Seven into your life will increase your hope level dramatically. And when that happens, anything is possible.

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Do Circumstances Break You—Or Make You?

Tough circumstances are no match for the kind of inner strength fueled by hope. Let me illustrate:

  • Lock him in a prison cell, beat him, and shipwreck him, and you have the apostle Paul.
  • Deafen him, and you have a Ludwig van Beethoven.
  • Cripple him, and you have a brilliant novelist and poet—Sir Walter Scott.
  • Raise him in abject poverty, and you have an Abraham Lincoln.
  • Burn him so severely that doctors say he’ll never walk again, and you have a Glenn Cunningham—the man who set the world’s one-mile record in 1934.
  • Strike him down with polio, and he becomes a Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  • Call him a slow learner, label him “retarded,” and write him off as uneducable, and you have an Albert Einstein.
  • Have her born black in a society filled with racial discrimination, and you have a Rosa Parks.
  • Subject him to torture in a Japanese prison camp for over three years, and you have a Louis Zamperini.

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