Wednesday, 21 February 2024
The worldwide leader in . . . hope? Gabriel Lamza/Unsplash

The worldwide leader in . . . hope?

For some pandemic reason, lately I’ve had extra time to listen to podcasts. This new podcast addiction led me to a fascinating conversation on leadership between Northpoint Church pastor Andy Stanley and Horst Shulze, former President and Chief Operating Officer of Ritz-Carlton. 

Shulze, who began his hotelier career by cleaning ashtrays, talked of the vision statement he and the Ritz-Carlton team created. Simply put, under his leadership he wanted Ritz-Carlton “To be the absolute global leader in the service industry.”

A great vision, right? Yet this created a follow-up thought by Stanley: “Your vision was not to be the leader in the hotel industry.”

Why? Because Shulze believed Ritz-Carlton could expand into the airline industry, the vacation cruise industry and more. He did not want the vision statement to limit the organization he led.

Many years ago—even before my time—passenger train companies went out of business, for a simple reason. The failed companies made the mistake of thinking they were in the passenger train business, instead of realizing they were in the transportation business. When passengers switched from trains to planes, they had no answers. 

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Last week, Heartbeat International showed us it is not in the “Destination Conference” business, but is instead in the Pregnancy Help Empowerment Business. 

If Heartbeat believed the only way to deliver content was through an on-site venue (we missed being in Seattle though—no question about that), many of us would have been doing something quite different last week.

But, instead of tanking a gathering of perhaps a thousand friends in Seattle, we saw 1,500+ gather online from across the globe, chatting, smiling, sharing photos and gaining incredible insight on the future of our organizations. 

Whenever circumstances change, those with a larger vision adapt. They re-imagine. In short, while they may be surprised at times, they are never caught off-guard. They remember the vision and ask, “Based on this new situation, how do we succeed?”

The pregnancy help community has adapted and re-imagined for nearly 50 years. One salient example? In the 1980s and into the early 90s, our best avenue to reach prospective clients was a free, high-efficacy pregnancy test--better than those found in retail outlets.  

Tweet This: The pregnancy help community has adapted and re-imagined for nearly 50 years.

But if we believed then we were in the “Pregnancy Test” business, we would have been forced to shutter our doors the moment those same pregnancy tests showed up on drugstore shelves.  

We adapted. We now offer ultrasound. STI testing. Prenatal care. Oh, and parenting classes, mentoring, Bible studies, educational support, job training. And let’s remember all the material needs we meet as well. 

Tweet This: Pregnancy help orgs offer ultrasound, STI tests, prenatal care, parenting classes/mentoring, education/material support, job training - HOPE

The truth? Though it is not (yet) an industry-wide mantra, we are in the Hope Business. Perhaps our vision should be, “Our goal is to be the worldwide leader in hope.” 

We understand that those who come in our door—whether they realize it—are desperately seeking hope in a challenging situation. 

Our vision—through various delivery methods—is to provide hope so she (and perhaps he) is empowered to choose life. 

Hope comes with a smile. It comes with encouragement. It comes with providing resources and solid, straight answers to tough questions. And it comes by sticking close to someone (with proper social distancing, of course) when others walk away. 

Whatever our list of services, wherever we serve, regardless of our budget, we are in the Hope business. Let’s stay in business, becoming the best at what we do.  

Will pregnancy help organizations one day be viewed as “The Worldwide Leader of Hope?” I don’t know, but it’s a vision worth considering.  

Hope, after all, springs eternal.

Kirk Walden

Kirk Walden is a senior writer with Pregnancy Help News, an Advancement Specialist with Heartbeat International and author of The Wall. For banquet speaking engagements, contact Gloria Leyda at Ambassador Speakers Bureau. His new Faith Revolution Podcast is online at

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