Now there is a concept that is difficult to get your soul completely around.
But, one thing is certain: when it is not present, life tends to unravel to the extreme.
Authentic hope is not a matter of wishful thinking. No, hope must be grounded in reality, in reasonable expectations and clear human connections.
Life doesn’t always go the way we desire, but if hope is present, roadblocks and setbacks function as merely delays or temporary disappointments, rather than major defeats.
For years it has been clear to me that human development issues like the ability to read at grade level is grounded largely in the presence of hope. If a child has a healthy sense of hope-inspired direction, that child will learn to read for that reason alone.
Hope affects health in major ways. If a person feels valued, connected to others and in possession of enough power to control her environment to some extent, she will exhibit better health than the person who has no hope or sense of choice and control.
Food security, housing, health, neighborhood safety, education, work, livable wages, access to options—these are the clear “makers” of hope for the urban poor.
A major part of our strategic plan for the next five years involves hard work in several “target neighborhoods” in the inner city. Our overarching objective in each will be to nurture hope.
The privilege and sheer joy of working alongside our inner city neighbors who are devoted to improving their lives engenders hope in all of us. The longer I work on the issues confronting poor communities, the more certain I am of the essential nature of hope for individuals and neighborhoods.
John W. Gardiner once noted that “the first and last task of a leader is to keep hope alive.”
He was correct.
Being surrounded by hope-inspiring leaders, I get to see it every day!
A couple of good reads on hope are Hope Dies Last by Studs Terkel and the new book by Senator Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope.
Speaking of hope: I remain very hopeful in spite of the fact that today I turn 57!
The Messiness of Ministry
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