This weekend I got a surprise visit from Dave White, a man who invested in me by encouraging me when I was a 25-year-old engineer working for Chevron. As we walked around Gateway Church, I got to introduce him to person after person who said to him, “Thank you, because God changed my life because of you.” It’s what Heaven will be like—Dave (you, me) getting to meet people we never knew, but they became our spiritual legacy.
Who are you investing in spiritually? Who can you encourage today? We make spiritual development of others overwhelming, but it starts with a simple act of encouragement. Do you realize that when God one day shows you the impact of your life on this world, your greatest accomplishment will probably surprise you like it surprised Dave? It’s not that difficult—let me tell you what Dave did for me, and you go do the same for someone today.
See What God Sees
I volunteered in a college ministry Dave led. I was Dave’s volunteer! I know Dave was praying for me and observing what gifts God had given me because he’d weekly encourage me to develop my gifts. I was exploring song writing, and he’d encourage me to keep developing. He even asked me to form a band for the college group. I did and I grew. Dave saw that I had leadership gifts, so he encouraged me to lead a group of students. I did, and I grew.
But there was one area I would not budge in—public speaking. I was terrified of public speaking. Dave rightly saw that I had a teaching gift that my fear had buried 6-feet under. I love to learn, synthesize, and share my learnings. I’d do this with Dave and he’d say, “Bro, you have a gift for teaching—you need to teach one of our college classes.” I’d reply, “NO WAY! If I have a teaching gift, God’s made a mistake because I hate speaking in front of people.” For months, Dave kept encouraging me to try it—for months, I resisted.
One day I was praying, and a thought penetrated my mind, “When you resist Dave, you resist Me!” I knew it was not a thought from me because I argued with God (bad idea, you’ll lose)! “I’m horrible at public speaking. I get so nervous. I’ll make them nervous. I’m just thinking of them!” Again: “When you resist Dave, you resist Me!”
I took Dave’s offer. I spoke to 15-20 college students…and it was HORRIBLE! But Dave encouraged me. He pointed out everything positive he could, and said “Do it again.” Each time he’d speak words of encouragement, pointing out one area to improve in (no more than one, yet he’d give me 5-7 positive things to keep me motivated). When I went around introducing Dave, I’d say “This is The Dave I told you about, who helped me overcome my fear of teaching.”
“So encourage each other and build each other up” (1 Thess. 5:11). Dave encouraged me more than I was comfortable with—honestly. I’d never been so encouraged. At first, it felt weird. We’re so used to being critiqued and corrected that encouragement feels fake. Yet maybe that’s just the result of a world far from God—after all, Jesus called the Holy Spirit the “Encourager / Counselor.” We are told to practice encouragement “daily”: “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:13). We get hardened without encouragement, so we fail to encourage others. Who can you begin to spiritually encourage today?
Dave prayed for me, saw latent gifts and called them out in me, and he challenged me to grow spiritually. He challenged me to learn God’s Word, develop and stretch in new ways, encouraging me liberally. This weekend, Dave got to see a small slice of his legacy. People who thanked Dave for investing in me, because God used me to invest in them, and now most of them are investing in others. It’s how God changes the world—life by life.
Who can you simply begin to encourage today? Who might God be putting along your path to “remind [them] to fan into flame the gift of God” (2 Tim. 1:6)?” I could tell Dave was pleasantly shocked to see his legacy. One day you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the impact of your life from simple words of encouragement. So here’s your assignment: Encourage someone’s gift, then comment here on the blog what you did to encourage them, and how it felt.