Monday, November 17, 2014

BookPastor >> "The Hope Quotient" (Ray Johnston)

A lot of attention has been put toward faith and the age-old topic of "love." Relatively speaking, "hope" is not touched on as much apart from mere mention in passing. The authors here show us that hope is a powerful way of life. This book was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on September 2nd, 2014.


TITLE: The Hope Quotient: Measure It. Raise It. You'll Never Be the Same.
AUTHOR: Ray Johnston
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: W Publishing Group, 2014, (240 pages).

Many believers say that faith is the only thing we need. Others echo along with it that "All you need is love." What about the other aspect of 1 Corinthians 13:13, Hope? Why is faith and love relatively more talked about that hope when hope is the very thing the world needs more and more? Founder and President of Thriving Churches International, Ray Johnston aims to up our "hope quotient" (HQ) and inject this necessary attribute for the world at large, and for people from all walks of life. Johnston, an inspirational speaker and life coach had spent seven years researching the material for this book. It all began with a conversation with his daughter who told him that the greatest thing she can ever have is to be encouraged. Johnston in turn saw through it all, and learned that the greatest gift indeed is the gift of hope. This is because hope liberates one from the past; motivates one to bounce back from despair; initiates one's freedom to dream; and activates the making of the world into a better place. On the opposite end of the spectrum is discouragement which Johnston calls a "disease" that discourages, depresses, and destroys. The main thesis of the book is: "Raising these Seven Factors raises Your Hope Quotient which creates Fresh Vision which unleashes a Whole New Future."

The author then lists these seven factors to raise our HQ followed by five practical areas to unleash a culture of hope. He believes that hope is not one big dramatic moment, but comprises a series of small steps, or small factors. Factor One is to "Recharge Your Batteries" to avoid one from running empty. keep one running. We need to pay attention to the things that drain us, and then to develop ways to charge and change our lives. Factor Two is "Raise Your Expectations" which refuses to take impossible without even trying. It takes a paradigm shift to avoid pandering to worldly assumptions. Factor Three then encourages us to "Refocus on the Future" because hope is not meant to be mothballed but be forward looking. His part about preferring "become" instead of mere "is" helps us to do just that. Factor Four's "Play to Your Strengths" recognizes that we all have special gifts and potential that we can harness, develop, and deploy. Factor Five is to "Refuse to Go It Alone" showing us that hope is not simply a Do-It-Yourself endeavor. It is investing in people and friendship networks to journey through life. He mentions the five types of relationships we all need:
  1. Vision casters - to help us dream bigger dreams;
  2. Soul Sharpeners - to discover our true selves, not just our strengths but even our weaknesses may very well be our biggest assets;
  3. Models and Mentors - to learn from the best;
  4. Heart Healers - to be able to recover from setbacks;
  5. Tail Kickers - to avoid becoming too complacent.
Factor Six talks about "Replace Burnout with Balance," which is a wise reminder not to let stress wear us down, but to maintain a healthy margin to help us pace well. Factor Seven helps us see the need to "Play Great Defense," to watch out for dangers even as one pushes ahead. We come back full circle to watch for toxic killers that can damage our hope. This is especially when one is down.

The final part of the book looks at the potential of hope to change our marriage, our parenting, our career, church, community, and the world. Full of stories and practical advice, this section alone puts into practice all the seven factors described earlier. Hope is believing that our marriages can be better. It is passing down a legacy of hope to our children to encourage, to energize, and to empower them to make a difference in this world. It is to raise hopes and healthy expectations in our workplaces, our churches, our communities, and the world at large. Johnston ends with a passionate story of how he discovers the importance of a "hope-giving relationship" to get back up in a baseball game even when the chips are down.

I like this book. Inspiring, educational, and richly practical, there are stories collected from many places. There is ample Bible references and easy to follow steps to improve our capacity for hope. There is even a "HQ Assessment Test" to help us take a snapshot of our own. Readers will find the enthusiasm of Johnston oozing out spuriously from every page. It takes a hopeful person to write such a hope-inspiring book. Lest readers think it is merely rhetoric or theoretical, Johnston had worked many years with young people and knew how important it is to inspire young lives. The way his Bayside Church continues to grow in number and in the youth population is testimony to his influence.

Let me close with this inspiring section from the book.
"Think hope doesn't make a difference? Let's get real for a second. Two people are walking in your direction. One of them is the most encouraging person you know. The other is the most discouraging person you know. Which one do you want to spend time with? That is true in every setting. In fact, picture what happens when a person of genuine hope comes into your life. All it takes is one. In a flash, the whole atmosphere changes. The impossible actually starts to look possible (think Steve Jobs). Defeat starts to look like it could be turned to victory (think Peyton Manning). Difficult things begin to look like they might actually be possible (think Nelson Mandela). Courage replaces fear, and strength chases away powerlessness." (6)

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of W Publishing, a division of Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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