What’s next?! A common question today amongst leaders.

How do we lead with authentic hope when the future seems so cloudy?

You must first possess a positive outlook on the future before you can authentically lead with hope.

Let’s be honest; that’s not easy or automatic right now.

We certainly have hope for the future because Christ is our hope, but that doesn’t eliminate the number or size of challenges we face.

Let’s just say it. Leading today is difficult.

We can be very hopeful about the future of the church; it’s designed to do well against opposition, even when the opposition comes in the forms of apathy, division, and literal attack.

But I’ll admit it can be exhausting right now. You know, twice the effort for half the results — that kind of thing.

Leading today is not for the faint of heart, but if you are passionate about your calling to see people know Jesus, you couldn’t be leading at a better time.

Leadership today calls for a set of characteristics like discipline, resilience, diligence, and joy.

Which one of the above isn’t like the others? Joy. Right!

Joy in the face of challenge is essential.

Possessing joy doesn’t indicate a clueless sense of happiness about life’s obvious challenges; possessing joy is a choice.

We have the ability to choose joy as we lead through significant difficulties.

6 Ways To See A More Hopeful Future

1) Take ownership of your disposition.

The process of how you perceive what is outside starts inside. Therefore, your personal framework or disposition is greatly determined by how you process life internally.

The concept of your “first thought” is a strong indicator.

When you face a difficult situation, what is your first thought?

Here are a few examples:

  • “This is going to be bad.”
  • “We’ll figure it out!”
  • “I knew this would happen!”
  • This is tough, but we’ll find a good opportunity.”

You need to be honest about reality, and no one likes huge problems, but if your first thought isn’t optimistic toward a solution, you need to learn how to make that your second thought.

Rose-colored glasses may not be the solution, but they are the right idea.

2) Be wise about who you listen to.

There is so much confusing and conflicting noise today; it is, therefore, important to be wise in your choices of who to listen to.

It’s good to expand your thinking and listen to people different than you, but when it comes to voices that are largely negative, critical, lack hope, or generate fear – love them, but don’t listen in a way that takes it to heart.

So if it’s so difficult to discern truth, how can we know? We need a compass, a true north, which can only come from God’s Word combined with the Holy Spirit. That’s your filter.

From there, you can prayerfully think through the issues you must lead through.

3) Ask God to increase the size of your faith.

The struggle with “enough” faith is not a new one.

On more than one occasion, faith was an issue amongst the disciples. From Jesus being frustrated with their lack of faith to the apostles asking Jesus to ‘increase our faith.” (Luke 17:5)

We also know it’s not always how much faith (mustard seed), as it is understanding who our faith is in.

When it comes to faith, it’s not always simple to discern between trust and prudence, but we can’t lead with a positive outlook about the future if we lack faith.

So, where does the increase of faith begin, with you or God? Yes. (Not a helpful answer, I know.)

Do you want greater faith? (Especially for the future.) So start here – acknowledge a genuine desire for greater faith, ask God for it, and begin to live as if you have it.

You don’t need to take a leap of faith but take the next step. So what’s your next step?

4) Get honest about the price tag of leadership.

When leading in crisis, chaos, or just daily confusion, a full measure of honesty is required about a price that must be paid.

There is always a cost to leadership when leading in difficult times. Are you willing to step up?

Here’s the big caution when it comes to the cost of leadership, we should never start naming the price for someone else to pay, which leads to judgmental legalism. 

Further, this is not an ascetic concept, we don’t seek hardship through leadership, but we are prepared for it in whatever form it might present itself.

How does this help cultivate a more positive outlook? Knowing there is a cost helps normalize it and prevent discouragement when its encountered.

5) Find opportunities in problems.

Some people find a solution for every problem; others find a problem in every solution.

Which one do you think has a more positive and faith-filled outlook on the future?

Every time you find a solution, even for a small problem, you train your mind and heart to believe there is a solution for every problem, no matter the size. That radically changes your outlook on the future.

Rather than allowing life’s tough challenges to impact you with overwhelming drama, chase the challenge like you are solving a puzzle.

For you, finding a solution is not an option (you are going to solve the puzzle,) and seeing opportunities is a skill to develop.

Seeking and producing solutions often leads to new and great opportunities.

6) Hold high standards for the team you gather around you.

Your inner circle of staff, friends, advisors, coaches, etc., can make or break your ability to see and lead to a positive future. Choose them wisely.

Whether your inner circle consists of three people or thirty doesn’t matter as much as who they are and the value they add to your life and ministry. (And you, of course, add value to their lives as well.)

A good inner circle:

  • Loves you and believes in you.
  • Tells you the truth.
  • Brings wisdom and discernment.
  • Thinks big and has strong faith
  • Will confront you if needed.

The people closest to you either take you up or hold you back. They absolutely influence how you see and lead into the future.