Affirming What Could Be

Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. –1 Thessalonians 5:11

I was having lunch with a new friend who told me, “I’ve listened to you teach, and I’ve really listened to you, and I think you could be…” He went on to affirm me with what he believed I could be with the new messages brewing within me. My brief lunch with him was empowering! I felt so inspired and motivated. I left this lunch feeling challenged, believed-in and thankful that I have a friend who has “spiritual eyes” to see what could be in me.

After that lunch, on the way to my car, I met a very nice person who knows me from my speaking at church. She said, “You’re taller in person than you look on stage.” I’ve heard that hundreds of times. Apparently, I sound short. Then they usually say, “You’re not as funny in person.” Pointing out the obvious did nothing for me.

Superficial relationships tend to focus on the obvious and inspire nothing new. One of the ways to deepen the quality of your relationships is to be a person who challenges others to see their own potential. If you’re like me, you tend to see your own faults, sins and inadequacies and don’t always see qualities or potential for good. So when others go beyond pointing out the obvious, to envisioning what could be and make it known, it breathes life into our souls. This type of affirmation is incredibly powerful and can become life-changing!

When I was a teenager, my youth pastor, Jim Burns, shocked me with his words, “Doug, I think God has great plans for you as a leader…I don’t know what they are, but I know you are going to be a leader who God uses.” Jim’s words became a visual portrait to me of who I could become.

What Jim did for me was simply to copy what Jesus did for Simon. You remember the event where Jesus looked past Simon’s big-mouthed misadventures and gave him a new name: Peter, Petros, Rock. Jesus saw something in Simon (and told him so!) that Simon did not see in himself and this simple fisherman became a rock-solid leader in the Jerusalem church.

We all need people in our lives to see what we don’t see in ourselves. Today, breath some life into another person’s life by recognizing their potential and telling her or him what could be.

1. Reflect on a time when someone affirmed your potential. How did it make you feel? What difference did it make in your life?

2. What portrait of potential can you paint for someone in your life today — one that they can grasp and begin to move toward?

Matthew 16:13-19; Ephesians 4:29; Hebrews 3:13

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Doug Fields

Doug Fields is the senior director of HomeWord. He speaks to thousands of leaders, teenagers and parents each year. He’s also the author/co-author of 50+ books including: Parenting in a Screen Saturated Culture; Intentional Parenting; 7 Ways to be Her Hero – the One Your Wife Has Been Waiting For; and To Have and To Hold. In addition to Doug’s speaking and writing, he is also the co-founder of and the youth pastor at Mariners Church. Doug has been married for more than 35 years to his wonderful wife Cathy, and they live near their 3 married children and 3 grandchildren in Southern California.

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