I'm a graduate of Penn State University (WE ARE ... ). While there, I studied athletic training, which meant I had the opportunity to work with a few of the different sports teams. One semester I worked with the men's basketball team. Anyway, being a part of the Big 10 meant that, occasionally, some of the games would be televised on ESPN. One night Penn State was playing I.U. and the game was going to be televised on ESPN 2. So, I called my mom and let her know that if she turned on ESPN 2 at 7:30pm, she might see me on TV. She was super excited about the possibility. So, the game ends, Penn State loses, and at 10:30pm I receive a phone call. It's my mom. She says, "I saw you on TV tonight." And, I'm like, "Oh, you did. Good." And she says, "You were number 32, right? Wow, you're really good. I didn't realize you were that good at basketball!" And, so, I have to break it to my mom that I don't actually PLAY for Penn State. It was a sad realization for my mom ... especially when she realized I wasn't on a full-ride scholarship and that some tuition money would be due at the end of the month.
Well, there are a few things about this story I want you to know:
- # 32 was the best player on the team
- Only a mom would think her 5'8" slightly pudgy son with speed somewhere between a sloth and turtle could be a Division 1 basketball player.
- It felt really good to be looked at with such belief
I don't know about you, but it feels really good to be looked at through the eyes of someone who really believes in you ... who sees past the problems and in to the potential. One of the greatest gifts we can offer another person is our trust and the simple words "I believe in you." The poet Goethe once wrote: "Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be." I think this is the same thing God does for us. All throughout the Bible you can see that God has a pattern of choosing the least likely:
- Gideon ... He was hiding from the enemy and when the angel of the LORD appeared to him, the first thing He called him was a "Mighty Warrior." (Judges 6:12)
- Moses ... He wanted nothing to do with God's call on his life. He tried everything to get out of it and gave God every excuse in the book. God said, "I am sending you and I will be with you." (Exodus 3)
- The Disciples ... Jesus called each of them personally and I doubt that anyone else would have picked them first for the team. He chose them even though they were called "unschooled, ordinary men." (Acts 4)
- The Apostle Paul ... He persecuted the church! No one believed in him until one day Jesus met him on his way to Damascus. (Acts 9)
God seems to display this pattern in the Bible of choosing the least likely ... of choosing someone who doesn't think they are up to the challenge and then just pouring courage in to their lives and speaking to their potential and, most of all, offering them Himself. "You can do this. I believe in you. And, most of all, I am with you. Let your courage come from Me."
I think that is ultimately what we are called to do as well. Hebrews 10:24 reminds us to "Consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." Our job is to consider how we can do this. Who can we express belief in? Who can we offer trust too? Who can we pour courage in to? How can we move people toward these things. I think one way is simply by sharing the simple words "I believe in you."
In his book, The 8th Habit, author Steven Covey discussed an experience he had early in life when someone expressed belief in him. He said "he entrusted me with a charge and responsibility far beyond my experience and perceived ability. He gave me his trust, without evidence, without proof. He simply believed and expected I would rise to the challenge, and he treated me accordingly. It was an act of faith. But that act of faith so affirmed my worth and potential that I was inspired to see it in myself. His faith in me increased my own faith and vision of myself. I aspired to the highest and most noble inclinations within me. I was not perfect, but how I grew! It also became a philosophy of life to me. Affirm people. Affirm your children. Believe in them, not in what you see but in what you don’t see— their potential."
This is exactly the pattern God has set for us. He entrusts us with the responsibility of loving others. He entrusts us with living out our faith. Someone once said, "God's church has a mission but even more amazingly God's mission has a church!" He sees our "junk" and knows about it even more than we do and yet He invites us to be a part of the greatest thing He's doing in the world today ... building His Church.
Who is someone you can encourage today? How can you consider how to spur someone on toward love and good deeds? I have a few people in mind for me. I want them to know what it feels like to be looked at through the eyes of someone who really believes in them.