sober faith vs. optimism

I’m reading thru seveal books simultaneously, as is one of my preferred habits.. one of them is the lauded Jim Collins’ book, “Good to Great“, which I’m reading to engage conversations about a transitioning non-profit organization. Too often the concept quoted from the book is the “Level 5 Leader”, which is certainly a part of what goes into a good-to-great company, but there is so much more. I’m reading it with a particular lens to highlight the ingredients that are worth talking about..

Admiral Jim Stockdale shared these cutting words in it: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end?which you can never afford to lose?with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

Real faith is not to be confused with optimism. Through the biggest challenges of life (for Stockdale, Vietnam War prisoner-of-war camp), it was NOT the optimists who survived, they didn’t make it! It was those with real sober faith, who combined persevering faith with sober reality.

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  1. timsamoff says:

    Good post, DJ. I think “sober optimism” also falls in line with “acting on faith” as well. Too often, “optimists” will wait around, hoping for God to do something miraculous, while, in the meantime, they miss out on the miracles that God has already performed — whether it be a person sent, something heard on the radio, an unexpected opporunity of some sort, or whatever.

    Optimism is good. We need optinimism in this pessimistic world. But “sober optimism” (confronting the reality of your situation and understanding that God’s work is within it) and “acting on faith” (actually, doing something about changing your situation and understanding that God’s work is within it) is essential for surviving in this world as a believer.