Don't Get Your Hopes Up

There’s a time and place for leaders to speak the words: “Don’t get your hopes up!”

I’ve heard doctors say those words. After my motorcycle accident, I asked my surgeon if I’d be able to run again in a few months. He said in so many words, “Don’t get your hopes up!”

I couldn’t believe he was so negative!

You find yourself talking to a board about how long their transition will be and they tell you that 3-6 months should be enough time. You carefully say to them, “Don’t get your hopes up!”

What are we saying when we say “Don’t get your hopes up”?

We’re cautioning people to avoid unrealistic expectations. We’re waving the caution flag and suggesting that in order to have a bright future during transition, you need to go through the valley of uncertainty and emotion to get to the other side.

Leadership during transition is about helping manage expectations and guide congregations so they can avoid unnecessary disappointment.

To say, “Don’t get your hopes up” creates a pause and gives a little time to count the cost before jumping in with both feet.

Jesus was thinking it when he said to his followers in Luke 14:27-28:

And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?

My default is to say, “Let’s get our hopes up! Let’s aim high and trust God for great things!” But if those hopes are not paired with the right people, the right plan, fervent prayer, and proper preparation they may lead you down the path of disappointment and frustration.

Let's explore 20 possible times it might be best to say, “Don’t get your hopes up.”

20 Times You Might Want to Say Don’t Get Your Hopes Up

Don’t get your hopes up…

…when expectations are not based on a pathway to get there

…when environmental conditions prevent change from occurring

…if the soul isn’t saturated by prayer

…if the foundation is not built on God’s word and will

…if there is no clarity on how leaders will work together

…if past hurts remain unresolved or healed

…if the habits required to sustain the change are not in place

…if you keep doing what you’ve done and expect a different result

…if your mindset is fixed and you believe you know enough today to be effective tomorrow

…if the board is dysfunctional and unwilling to have the crucial conversations necessary to get unstuck

…if leaders are suffering from unprocessed loss or burnout but act like everything is fine

…to develop leaders but have no proven process for disciple-making

…to have a thriving marriage but all you do is grab a few minutes here or there

…to run a marathon without training during the weeks leading up to the race

…to leave a legacy if you haven’t written your eulogy and planned your life accordingly

…to reap a harvest but didn’t sow the seed necessary in Spring

…if all you have is a wish but no plan to go with it

…if you have a strategy but a toxic culture

…to find a gifted and perfectly suitable pastor if you haven’t done the hard work during transition

…to become the person you want to be without surrounding yourself with people you will learn from

Now it’s your turn. What would you add to the list?


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