September 04, 2019
My dad wrote me one letter during my four years in college. He was not a letter writer, and I saw him most weekends, so the lack of letters was not missed. But, I’ll never forget this one.
I had bought my first new car, navigating it by myself, with his counsel. The one line I’ve remembered for 50 years in this unexpected letter was this: “You showed great wisdom in the purchase of the car.” Why did it affect me so deeply? The one I longed to impress the most expressed confidence in me.
Paul had written a very strong letter to the church in Corinthian (1 Corinthians). It was a letter challenging them and instructing them in how they should deal with several very difficult situations. Later, his co-worker Titus, who had been to Corinth, returned to him, reporting about how they had responded in absolute obedience to God and His instructions (through Paul) to them.
This report brought him great joy. But more than that: his confidence in their walk with God was bolstered. But, the most beautiful thing was how Paul took the opportunity to say one of the most important statements anyone will ever say to another:
“I rejoice that in everything I have confidence in you.” (2 Corinthians 7:16)
A SIMPLE, VITAL WORD
Giving encouragement and healthy applause to one you are mentoring is one of the most life-changing things you will ever do. Everyone you know (including yourself) wonders if they have what it takes—if they’ll make it and succeed in what matters. For your children, those you’re are discipling, your mate, your co-worker to hear your confidence in them is huge. Conversely, to hear the opposite is terribly debilitating. (We’re often quick to utter those words).
Sometimes a lack of confidence needs to be expressed by way of teaching and reproof, but it should always be coupled with the belief that, through Christ, this can be changed. This was the case with Paul, expressed in his first and second letter to the Corinthians.
Most people are stingy with statements of approval and confidence and those around them are left to wonder. I heard someone say this week to me, “They lived their whole life to please their Dad … and they never really got his approval.” Don’t be that Dad! Or boss. Or discipler. Or spiritual leader. Build up those around you so that you can say it with honesty. But then, don’t miss the moment to voice confidence in them when it is appropriate.
They may keep that word in their hearts, spurring them on, for 50 years.
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