My January book recommendation is the Hope Quotient by Ray Johnston. He spoke at Saddleback Church a couple weeks ago and I really enjoyed his message on hope so I bought his book. I read it in a couple days and loved it!
In his book, he says, “Some wise person once said that we can live about 40 days without food, about 3 days without water, about 8 minutes without air but not a single second without hope.” Hope is so important! In fact, Ray shares in his book that “the opposite of hope is discouragement and discouragement always precedes destruction.” Sadly, when hope is lost, you may see kids drop out of school, parents give up on their kids, marriages end, people walk away from their faith…. and the saddest of all, people taking their own life. This is why Ray says Hope is the greatest gift you can give your family and friends! “Hope liberates, unleashes compassion, encourages people, motivates, helps people attempt new things, motivates people to find new strength and propels people forward- even when it seems impossible.”
Since hope is so important, Ray gives 7 ways to help increase your hope quotient (hence the title of the book).
- Recharge Your Batteries. Nobody does well running on empty.
- Raise your Expectations. You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you expect.
- Refocus on the future. It’s time to throw away your rearview mirror. No one goes forward well when they are looking back.
- Play to your strengths. Be yourself; everyone else is taken.
- Refuse to go it alone. Never underestimate the power of support. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto.
- Replace burnout with balance. Burning the candle at both ends isn’t as bright as you think.
- Play great defense. Avoid these five toxic hope killers that can threaten your future.
Honestly, I loved each chapter and the nuggets of truth in each one but right now, I would like to focus on the following truth: “What can this become”; it was covered in the Refocus on the future chapter and in the Unleashing Hope in your Kids chapter. Let’s expand on it- Ray says, “When I stop looking at the way things are and instead start to see them for what they can become, everything changes. I don’t know anything as powerful as this simple practice for replacing discouragement for encouragement.” He gives the example of when Jesus was asking his disciples to follow him. He says in Mark 1:17, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Ray says, “Jesus was not focused on what people were like. He was focused on what they could become.”
Ray talks about it from a parenting standpoint and how important this is especially with teenagers. He says, “Show me a parent of a teenager who is focused on what their kid is like right now, and I’ll show you a discouraged parent. Show me a parent who is focused on what his or her teenager can become, and anything is possible.” As a parent of a teenager, this is so encouraging to me! Ray shares that he has talked to many teenagers and he asks them these questions, “Is this the type of person you really want to become? Will the road you’re on right now get you to where you want to be? What do you want to become?” And then I love what he says next. “The answer to these questions is always fresh vision. Fresh vision leads to encouragement. Encouragement leads to hope. Hope leads to change! Change leads to better days ahead. The benefits of asking these questions are limitless.” Wow- such great insight!
Honestly, this “What can you become” truth is not just for parenting. A teacher can focus on what a student can become. It can be used by a business, a church, a marriage…. “When we can focus on what something can become, we are more encouraged and more encouraging!”
Hope- such a powerful word! In fact, Pastor Steve shared on hope last week at the Saddleback Kids Summit. He shared the verse, Hebrew 6:19, “This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.” He started to talk more about an anchor and he said that an anchor is to keep a ship steady through a storm! Wow- this is powerful! All of us are going to go through storm/ hard times. We need hope that even in the storms of life that God has good plans for us!! We need faith and hope that He is at work in our lives even when we cannot see how God will get us through the storm. He shared that the anchor is the Christian symbol for Hope! Love it!
I have shared before that at the New Year I choose a word to focus on. For the last couple years, I have chosen two words but at the beginning of January, I only had one. Well, after hearing Ray’s message at church, reading his book, hearing Pastor Steve’s message and finally reading a new devotional all about hope, I have decided to add a second word that I will focus on this year: HOPE!
Ray shares in his book that verse 1 Cor 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.” Ray says that “Christians will not thrive without all three. However, the Christian church has spent years majoring on two and leaving hope out of the equation.” He continues and says, “I have come to see hope as the most critical ingredient to success in life, family and leadership.” Now you can see why I added hope as my second word to focus on this year.
Dear God, I pray we can all experience more hope in our lives! I pray we will be encouraged and stay encouraged! I pray we can look at each other and focus on what we can become. God, for someone who is feeling discouraged right now, for someone who is in the middle of a storm, I pray that they can anchor themselves to you and have hope in you! I know that you are faithful and can help them. God, show up in their pain and in their tough circumstances and comfort them. We love you God! Amen!