For some time now, I and some friends have assisted with a local “Adopt a School” program. One lesson I have learned through this involvement is the importance of hope. Children who have known and experienced grinding poverty and great oppression can be successful – if they are given hope.
I do not mean, “hope so,” which basically means “best wishes” or “good luck.” I mean true hope, gained through seeing real examples of people that have overcome similar adversities, along with receiving practical goals and strategies to put them on a path toward a better life.
Strangely enough, feelings of hopelessness are not confined to ghettos and disadvantaged communities. Our workplaces could use some hope as well. A recent Gallup survey revealed only 30 percent of workers feel excited about their jobs, finding them meaningful and rewarding. Can you imagine – less than one-third of workers today approach their workplace responsibilities with enthusiasm?
What if the other 70 percent understood their callings as workers and were given hope, a real sense they could escape the feelings of drudgery and frustration that dominate their every day realities? If they could find hope, I believe most likely they would become more engaged and productive. Instead of being excess baggage for their companies, they could develop into important, valued employees.
How could this happen? There is no simple, instant solution. Sometimes workers look like the proverbial “square peg” trying to fit into a round hole. Their unique mix of skills and talents might be a poor match for the responsibilities they have been assigned to perform every day. They might feel underutilized, or prevented from exploring opportunities to grow professionally and personally. They could feel stuck, like their job is a dead-end, without expectation for advancement.
There are many types of proficiency and personality tests, along with motivational assessment tools employers can use to evaluate their employees and explore how to maximize their contributions to the company. In some cases, a dead-end job might indeed be just that, meaning the worker should be encouraged to pursue alternatives that would be more rewarding materially, mentally and emotionally.
People need hope – the expectation or confidence that better things lay ahead and can be reached. Proverbs 13:12 wisely observes, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Lack of hope can take its toll physically, as well as in other ways.
Ultimately, followers of Jesus Christ find their hope in God, assured of His promises to care for us, provide for us, and guide us in every aspect of our lives. For instance, God gave this assurance through the prophet Jeremiah: “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). When we know God has specific plans for us and is diligently working to bring them about, how we not have hope?
With this in mind, why not take a moment and try to provide hope to someone in your workplace today?
Copyright 2013, Integrity Resource Center, Inc. Adapted with permission from “Integrity Moments with Rick Boxx,” a commentary on issues of integrity in the workplace from a Christian perspective. To learn more about Integrity Resource Center or to sign up for Rick’s daily Integrity Moments, visit www.integrityresource.org. His book, How to Prosper in Business Without Sacrificing Integrity, gives a biblical approach for doing business with integrity.
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1. How would you define the word “hope”?
2. In light of your definition, would you say that you have hope? How about the people that work around you – do they have hope? Are they among the 30 percent of people that enjoy their jobs, or the 70 percent that carry feelings of despair, partly the result of having jobs and doing work they find unfulfilling?
3. What steps can you take personally – or would you suggest for someone else – to find hope in a seemingly hopeless situation?
4. The Bible says we can find hope as we trust in God. Do you agree with this? Do you believe God truly cares about your work, the responsibilities you perform every day to earn a living? Or does it seem that God is distant and disinterested in your workplace role? Explain your answer.
NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Proverbs 23:17-18, 24:10,13-14; Romans 5:1-5, 8:24; Ephesians 1:18-19; Titus 2:13