A man was watching a little league baseball game one afternoon. Out of interest, he asked a boy in the dugout what the score was. The boy responded, “Eighteen to nothing–we’re behind.” The spectator responded, “I’ll bet you’re discouraged.” “Why should I be discouraged?” replied the boy. “We haven’t even gotten up to bat yet!” That boy understood what it is to be a “prisoner of hope”. Regardless of the score, his team was still going to get up to bat sometime. The game was not over!

What is a Prisoner of Hope? We find a fascinating and powerful verse sandwiched in the middle of the book of Zechariah 9:12.

“Return to the stronghold,
You prisoners of hope”

It’s a clarion call to the people of God who experienced such oppression and devastation. It reminds them that hope is coming. That hope was… and is… Jesus! The game is not over!

When leaders determine to hold onto hope, the future holds their heart with more power than the past can evoke. In that way, as they remain in the stronghold of hope, instead of struggling aimlessly, they are able to hear the strategies of heaven and gain wisdom for the task ahead.

To be a “Prisoner of Hope” means being bound and woven in faith over fear, even in the face of challenges and adversity. It involves trusting in God’s plan, believing He will fulfil His promises, no matter the circumstances.

We often don’t realise how our attitudes and actions alter our perception, especially when it’s been a long battle. The result is that we can become imprisoned by them.

So much constrains women leaders. Many things strive to hold us back, imprison us, chain us to inequality, and wrong doctrine. Sometimes we’ve even imprisoned ourselves through lack of confidence and comparison. The battle to lead still rages in many contexts, churches and cultures BUT…

What if we could be held in a good kind of prison?

What if the picture of our life and leadership was hemmed in by the grace of God, keeping us captive to His hope?

What if, when doubt, disappointment, and opposition come to box us in, it fails in its mission because hope so tightly surrounds our life and thinking?

I have decided to be an unflinching prisoner of hope.

Leading Kyria can sometimes feel demoralising. I am aware of the temptation to feel defeated, wondering if we are really making a difference? Will the story for women leaders ever change? Stories of inequality and misogyny continue to surround us. They flood my inbox weekly with emails and often daily with phone calls BUT we are not chained by them because we are shackled by hope not hopelessness

The daily decision to remain rooted in Christ means returning to the stronghold of hope, making the decision to be constrained by God. In this is power and purpose.

The fortress of God has no postcode. There are no walls. For each of us its a choice and a commitment to God and each other that no matter where we are, no matter what we are up against, our decision is to be prisoners of hope. The story is changing, and as we fiercely lead while remaining in this place of hope, much can be achieved.

On Easter Sunday we celebrated Jesus’s resurrection and defeat of death. In this time where we remember that creation brought life back to that which was buried, I want to encourage you to cultivate an attitude of hope in your life and in your leadership.

Desmond Tutu says, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”

Stewarding hope and embodying this concept in our leadership will keep us grounded and guided as we continue to travel and travail.

Being a “Prisoner of Hope” does not mean ignoring reality or denying the struggles we all face. It means acknowledging the difficulties but continuing to maintain the stance of faith and trust in God’s ultimate plan for your life and leadership journey.

Paul prayed in Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy, and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

The challenge is simple:

Return to the stronghold and remain as a prisoner of hope. The game is not over!