There’s so much noise floating around right now. Strong opinions and thoughts. Virtual attacks and warnings. Recommendations and advice. As a Jesus girl with her own feisty feelings, I’ve been quiet online this past year. I’ve spent a lot of time listening, more time grieving, but most of all, I dove deep into shoring up my spiritual life. Our hearts are easily swayed by the shifting winds and His Word is the only life raft worth wrapping my whole self around.
I am grateful for the internet and for places like (in)courage who push us and point us to Jesus, but (yes, there’s a but) here’s my “for what it’s worth” opinion: We are not obligated to share opinions, post thoughts, take or defend a stand on Facebook, Instagram, or any of the places I can’t keep up with online — even when friends think you should. That’s their opinion that you ought to, not a fact. But with real life relationships? That’s a different story.
Ironically enough, this discussion came into play with our adult children (ages 17 to 27) who recently deleted all social media. Even though I knew this was a healthy decision and that I should have been a proud momma, I tried to talk them into keeping it. (Their varying reasons are an important topic for another post.)
During this week-long wrestling, we noted “friends” who lived much of their life online, garnered attention there, yet when placed side by side with real life, their online lives and their real lives didn’t match up.
You might be thinking, “Hey Jen, pluck the plank from your own eye first!” Exactly! That’s how this came about. I want no room for hypocrisy.
We questioned, “How much time and resources are we investing to our ‘reach out and touch someone’ spheres of influence?” Imagine if we spent even a fraction of the time that we read, scroll, and post and got serious about life-on-life ministry.
To answer this pondering, I dusted off a thirty-year-old math problem that revolutionized how I invested my time. I shared it in Just Open the Door, but in this age of isolation, it’s more important now than ever. In my college mentorship class, my Bible professor demonstrated the multiplication process that occurs if each one of us would purposefully invest in the life of one other person for a year.
I’ve never been much of a math girl, but even I could clearly see the exponential power of what he was describing. If each of us came alongside just one person each year — doing life with them, discipling and teaching them about the Bible, unpacking how it interacts and impacts all aspects of their life — and then encouraged them to do the same thing with another person the next year, do you know what would happen? In the course of our one lifetime, hundreds of thousands would be touched by what we started.
The verse from Job takes a whole new meaning, “Though your beginning was insignificant, yet your end will increase greatly” (Job 8:7 NASB).
2020 has been a year many of us have felt unseen, overlooked, and stuck. Yet as those feelings have started to overtake me, I’m reminded of how the invitation to invest in one person really can change a generation.
As I think back on key milestones in my own life, every single one has been marked by an investment from a woman committed to sharing life with me for a season. Their impact wasn’t the result of a larger-than-life platform or words crafted for their blog. No, my life was changed through seemingly everyday encounters with women who believed in the beauty of being deeply rooted right where God had placed them.
They weren’t looking to be launched into a bigger opportunity. They knew (and know) that God had entrusted them to be present and faithful in their immediate sphere of influence.
Debbie. She poured out her wisdom when she invited me to meet weekly and study the classic Richard Foster book Celebration of Discipline. Her desire to raise up the next generation of leaders moved me. She didn’t dumb down our topics but believed a sixteen-year-old girl could change the world given the right foundation. Now I believe the same thing for my own daughters.
Jan. Her kitchen prowess taught me to cook and use the gift of treats as a vehicle to minister to the needs of so much more than a hungry tummy. And because of her, I’ve witnessed how a cold cup of water and a hot meal can woo the soul.
Faye. She demonstrated the importance of shoring up my communication skills so I can boldly proclaim and defend my worldview. Now I live in a culture where truth is considered relative, yet I know the source of absolute truth.
My mom. She was and still is the one whose love, faithfulness, and consistency influence me more than any other. The reason I know Jesus is because my mom modeled His love and because I wanted what she had. I open my home today because she opened her home. I prioritize family because she did it so well.
That’s the power of one person investing in another.
Who is your one person today?
God chose us to champion His love. We don’t have to get our act together before He uses us. I’m a perfect example since a huge part of my ministry is making you feel better about yourself by simply being a willing and available mess who desires to be used for His glory. (Do you follow me on Instagram? Proof is right there.)
Friends, the power of one — the beauty that stems from life-on-life, one-on-one relationships — never grows old. And you know what? You get to be part of that life-giving multiplication process.
You are the someone God wants to use now to impact this next generation. Your unique gift, your untold story, your broken and mended heart, your fierce love, your brave authenticity — all these intricate threads woven together create a tapestry He wants to use to unveil His love to someone who needs to experience it.
You are the one who can meet the need of another today. Who will it be?
In the comments below, I’d love to hear whom you hope to invest in so I can pray with you for this wonderful opportunity.
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