And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” Mark 9:36
SHE BELIEVED IN ME. She saw something that I couldn’t recognize, and she acted on it. I was seven or eight years old, and she invited me to be her assistant teacher for our primary Sunday school class. Because she asked me, I shyly accepted. And so, Sis. Reed (that’s what we called older ladies in our church) provided a platform by which I would discover and hone my gift for teaching. After all these years, I’m still at it.
Then there was “Sheltie,” an older man in our small church who mentored all the youngsters and loved each of us. He, too, encouraged me to serve and even took me with him to visit the high school class he taught. He believed in me, and I knew he cared about me. I think all of us in the younger crowd felt the same way.
My husband had a long and distinguished career in law and on the bench and liked to talk about a teacher in high school who challenged him at the end of a semester saying, “Young man, you can make something out of yourself.” Being a first-generation American, not many folks had taken time to encourage his talents. Peter listened to her, set his course, and never looked back.
Some of us have children; some even have grandchildren; and we all have young lives around us who are looking to us to believe in them and encourage their wildest dreams. We can become mentors or introduce them to those who will, and we can provide resources and experiences that will stir up the gifts God has placed in them. The greatest investment we can make is in shaping and influencing a life to fill that spot reserved for him or her in the Kingdom.
Here’s a whole summer ahead of us. What little one can we spend time with… read to… teach in VBS… affirm? (I really wish I could thank Sheltie and Sis. Reed for the gifts of themselves. Some day I plan to.)
Father, open our eyes to see the treasure of the little lives around us, and use us to bless them in your name. AMEN.