A lot of us dance on the edge of optimism and carelessness. “I’ll figure something out” has come out of my mouth more times than I want to admit. Sometimes it’s the only workable plan. But it’s also a way to ‘kick the can’ down the road and deal with stuff later. “Hope is not a strategy” pops into my head when I see someone in a bad situation getting worse, yet they seem to have no clue. There’s no initiative and no sense of urgency. Fiddling while Rome burns.

I’m not knocking hope. Lose hope and you’ve truly lost your way. Eventually you may lose your life. Depression can spring from a lack of hope. The word ‘hope’ is used 133 times in the Bible. Of all the gifts God gives human beings, hope may be the best. Hope for this life and for another one through Jesus Christ.

But in the context of living and leading day by day, hope is not enough. God gives brains, an amount of physical strength and a degree of mental capacity. Then He embellishes what we’ve been given through His gifts of the Spirit, including patience and self-control. More, He reminds us we can ‘do all things through Christ who strengthens us.’

So here’s the question ... what do you hope for but refuse to face up to? What have you continued to lie to yourself about? What habits are you holding onto you’ve been hoping to break? Do you hold on to a hope for a better marriage? Do you exercise in your imagination but not in real life? Do you hope to reach the weight your doctor suggested but eat yourself into oblivion? Do you hope you won’t get drunk? Do you hope you won’t go back to that porn site? Do you hope you’ll resist the temptation to pad your expense report next time? Do you hope you’ll someday be a ‘cheerful giver’ to the Lord’s work ... maybe even a tither?

Strategy puts ‘legs’ on hope. If you hope for something to change, come up with a series of steps that’ll move you toward what you hope for. The steps can be small. They can be spread out over time ... even a long period of time. But having steps that lead toward what you hope for can make a huge difference. A strategy can build even more hope as you begin to see what has eluded you come closer to reality.

Steps require dates and deadlines and make no bones about it, these steps will create stress. Creating and embarking on a strategy to change may hurt, but continuing to wobble around, handicapped with habits, addictions, and solvable problems is worse. You can’t talk your way out of what you’ve behaved your way into. With a step-by-step strategy and the Lord’s help, you can ‘behave your way out of what you’ve behaved your way into.’

Think and Pray

Identify one area that you want to see change or improvement in. Take 5 minutes right now and put an action plan together. Start small, and make sure you’re setting SMART goals. Now find a trusted friend who will pray for you and hold you accountable.

Father, I know myself well enough not to rely on my own strength or intentions. Give me the strength and humility to take action on the things I know You desire for me. And thank You in advance for bringing someone alongside me who will support me. Amen.

Regi Campbell is an experienced investor and entrepreneur by trade. But his real passion is mentoring younger men. In 2007, Regi founded Radical Mentoring to help encourage and equip mentors and churches to launch mentoring groups. He has written four books: About My Father’s Business, Mentor Like Jesus, What Radical Husbands Do, and Radical Wisdom. Regi currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his wife of 47 years, Miriam.