Words are Powerful
A teacher was ready to pull her hair out. The class was rowdy and definitely not quietly doing their work. She finally asked everyone to get out a piece of paper, to write down the name of each class member going down the left side, and then to write one nice thing about each person. Later the teacher collected the papers and compiled each person’s characteristics on their own page. The next day, she handed each student his or her compilation of compliments.
Years later, the teacher got word that one of her students had died in Vietnam and she was asked to attend his funeral. The soldier’s family showed her that piece of paper from junior-high with the other students’ kind remarks about him; he had carried it in his wallet until the day he died. Other students at the funeral slowly pulled out their pieces of paper as well and said how much it had meant to them.
This is the true touching story of a teacher at a Catholic school in Minnesota, and it shows the power of encouragement. The student who passed away in Vietnam was Mark Eklund.
In this blogpost I would like to challenge you. 🙂 I want you to think of a person in your life that God has used to make you more like Himself. Perhaps God allowed the influence to be from afar. Perhaps it was a relative or a classmate. God uses so many things to shape us and purify us, but there are certain people who have made a particular impact on your life to move you toward Christ.
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
Take some time to think. I am sure that there are many, but at least pick out one. After settling on that one, I encourage you to write a few ways that person has been used by God to help you grow spiritually. It may have been just by example; it may have been key comments at critical moments in the formative years of your life; it may have been through an extended discipleship relationship.
When you’ve completed your list, then thank them. Thank God first of all, and then thank the person. The best way is in person, but if you are far away or lack the courage, perhaps a hand-written letter (like, with stamps), or even an email would be acceptable. Yeah, probably not a text.
My response to the Thinkful Challenge brings me to Joan. We met up over 26 years ago when our family joined the mission with which we currently serve. She (being a fellow MK and someone who lived in Africa) and I had no trouble quickly connecting.
God used Joan in my life to make me think. Over the years she has influenced me with her life and with her words.
She challenged me in crafting a LPS (Life Purpose Statement). She encouraged me when I was discouraged. Over and over, she and her husband Paul poured courage into David and me.
I remember one time when we were speaking together at a ladies seminar on the Big Five. We used the theme of the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt as a platform to talk about the most important things to have in your life.
- Elephant – Life Purpose
- Cape Buffalo – Building Redemptive Relationships
- Lion- Spending time with King Jesus
- Rhino – Accountability Partner
- Leopard – Spotting Discipleship Relationships
Joan’s favorite animal is the African Leopard.
I felt so nervous to speak to all these women, but Joan would encourage me to just represent Christ. “Jesus does all the work,” she would say, “you are just a tool.”
Once, when she visited us in Africa, she went with me to a fabric store and helped me think of ways to decorate our home. She made things happen. She powered through obstacles.
A huge blessing from Joan is her love for our MK children. She has a special place in her heart for MK’s. No doubt about it. 🙂 The cool thing is that they love her back. She has earned their love.
One of my favorite memories of Joan is traveling to Israel together. It was the best trip of my life. I loved seeing all these places from the Bible come alive. What a gift to experience that adventure.
When visiting Abraham’s tomb, Joan, Avril and I had to wear big robes for covering. We felt oddly like nuns in this mosque.
We drank water from the well where Jesus had met with the Samaritan woman (John 4). We walked around the Garden of Gethsemane where our Savior wrestled through those difficult moments before dying for our sins on the cross.
There are so many things I could mention, but in the end, I thank God for how Joan pointed me to Christ. The Lord used her in conforming me to His Son.
Thinkful for Joan:
- She gave words of affirmation when I felt so weak and incapable
- She represented how a godly woman should invest her life, in discipleship and mentoring
- She has cared for her mom during difficult years
- She loves on missionary kids and makes them feel important
- She is so funny and has a godly irreverence for religious traditions
- She does cool, innovative and impulsive stuff
- She has decorated her home in African style, celebrating her memories living there
- She is a reader
- She has taught us as missionary ladies about balance in our lives
- She is not afraid of rebellious kids and loves sinners, like Jesus
Thanks, God, for the influence of righteousness that Joan has had in my life.
I am th(i)nkful.