I have been thinking for a long time about how important it is that we believe in people until they believe in themselves. I think this is a significant role of leadership.
Many people don’t see value in themselves but we, through listening prayer and discernment can help them see things – beautiful things –that have been there for a long time. In short, we can help them ‘uncover’ the truth about themselves. And when they begin to believe in themselves, we can nurture them to see things in themselves that they may have not yet seen. We help them identify good things in their DNA that they have not given much ‘weight’ to either because this fallen world we live in has ‘marred’ their view of themselves or because their deep wounds from living in this world has colored or distorted their worldview.
This is one important aspect of loving another person.
When people begin to see good things in themselves –gifts from God— they journey towards their best self. When we continue to believe in them by helping them find ways to use these abilities and skills and ‘giftedness’ we help them move forward in their love for themselves and others. This process takes time and requires discernment, timing, wisdom, grace and courage. In the end, one of our goals is simply to help facilitate ways for people we love to love others, and in doing so, experience the deep meaning and purpose in their lives they were created to experience and which they may be lacking in. In the end, at least for me, there are very few things in this life that are more significant than the fact that God can use me – once a Jewish, drug dealing, juvenile delinquent – as an agent of transformation into another person’s life. By grace, Jesus the resurrected one, has resurrected in me (in part through the Body of Christ) things I never saw in myself and, has enabled me to use these God-given abilities to bring positive and transforming change into the lives of others. If God, who is rich in mercy, has done this for me, then in doing this for others, I will realize God’s image in me, and experience one significant piece of the meaning of life.
I heard a very powerful story recently from a highly esteemed professor about how her peers believed in her when she was only 13 years old. She said ‘they saw potential in me that I did not see in myself’. She explained how a group of teenagers befriended her at a time when she saw herself as very unlikable. It was their friendship that brought her to faith. Their willingness to see potential in her caused her eventually to see things in herself that brought her to places where she could trust God.
This idea of seeing potential in people energizes me. Indeed, it motivates me to think differently about how we can help one another see the image of God in each other and experience the kingdom of God.