“In a world filled with hate, we must still dare to hope. In a world filled with anger, we must still dare to comfort. In a world filled with despair, we must still dare to dream. And in a world filled with distrust, we must still dare to believe.” (Michael Jackson)
“We all need someone to believe in us”. These are the words of a Swedish business person I recently listened to. These words struck a chord in me. The more I thought about them, the more I felt that they rung true in my life. I have been blessed in my journey to have had parents who believed in me, a loving wife who saw more in me than even I could see and countless people along the way who have called out the best in me. As some of you may know, I studied archaeology. Whilst at university, I was in the class of a professor who, together with his wife, saw something in me. They challenged me to dig deep within who I am and importantly, they believed in me. Each one of these people in my life saw potential where I saw pitfalls. They helped me to put my fears and insecurities aside and reach for my future.
Whether you are a young person starting the career journey, a parent guiding someone on this journey or a fellow traveler like myself, my challenge to you is to make sure you surround yourself with people who believe in you, but also that you reach out and believe in others. In the Bible, Matthew 17:5 talks about Jesus going down to the river Jordan to be baptized. As He was emerging from the water, a voice (the voice of His father) spoke from heaven, declaring: “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” God the Father was declaring to His son that he is special, that he has potential and that He is pleased with his son, even though he was only at the start of his ministry here on earth. In fact, Jesus had not as yet performed any miracles, had not overcome the temptation in the desert and had not paid the ultimate sacrifice for our lives yet.
Often in life we try to work hard to get approval, wear the right clothes, have the right brand of cell phone or drive the right car, all to make ourselves fit in and receive approval from others. Jesus, before he did the significant things He did (which were world-changing), was a son first. He was affirmed by his father for who He is, rather than for what He was going to do. Father God delighted in His son and in a similar way delights in us more for who we are than for what we do.
I believe that the Father spoke to Jesus with these words before His ministry had started in order to affirm His faith and belief in His son and what He had been called to do. The Father was recognizing the potential in His son and, in fact, calling out this potential. Again and again we see in the Bible that God called out people who in their own minds were weak – He called out Moses, David, Gideon, Esther, Ruth and the 12 disciples. He saw something in each of these individuals which the world did not see, and set them on a road to become history-changers. We all need someone in our lives who is willing to call or draw out our potential, to see more in us than we can recognize on our own.
I remember the story of Carly Fiorina, who went on to become the first woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Hewlett-Packard. She had started college, had dropped out and was working as a temp typist at a small company. Two businessmen visiting that company worked with her. They saw something in her and challenged her to study further. She herself says that the fact that somebody believed in her has given her the strength and the confidence to reach the top (http://carlyfiorina.com/).
We all need someone who believes in us. As a Christian, I walk a daily journey with Jesus who I know sees more in me that I do in myself. As a husband and father, my wife and girls draw out the best in me as they believe in me. I have many people in my life who I respect and cherish. They believe in me and inspire me to take bold steps forward even when the going gets tough. This is one of the reasons Nicky and I started Home-Base. We worked with orphaned and vulnerable children in Swaziland for three years and started to see these young people not as statistics but as very real people with their own dreams for the future. Our passion is to come alongside these young people, to believe in their dreams and to call out their best, God-given potential.
My daily challenge to myself is to ask myself, “What can I do today to draw out the best in someone else?” I often fail and find myself focused on myself and my own needs way too much. The thing is that it is often easier to find the worst in someone and to draw out the worst. We very easily find faults and become so focused on these that we see little of anything else. My wife has worked in the printing business and I have been amazed how many times people come to her and point out a mistake in the printing. It might be a word misspelled or a grammatical error on one page. The magazine might be brilliant in every way, but people often choose to focus on the problem, rather than that which is good. In life we are often like this. As parents we tend to look for the fault in our children and chastise them, rather than seeing the creativity and life bubbling up and working to draw this out. As managers we see the weaknesses of our teams but fail to recognize and appreciate their strengths.
Are you seeing the potential in others? Are you working to call out the best in your teenage child? Are you looking for faults or encouraging the heart of your employees? We all need someone to deliver hope – we all need someone who is willing to look beyond the wrinkles and the problems and see the potential. We are called to be hope-creators rather than soul-destroyers.
What can you do today to draw out the potential in someone?
How can you act today to inspire hope?
NEXT WEEKS POST – Mirror, mirror on the wall