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 which my friend from yuanpaygroup.org showed me ages ago 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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God put it on my heart a few years ago to volunteer at a food pantry. I finally got the opportunity and started this past Fall. Last time we were open for food distribution, a woman, I’ll call her Sandra, pulled up to our door. Even though we didn’t open for an hour, I let her know we’d take care of her. She didn’t have enough gas to go home and come back. As I was talking to her she shared with me that she just wanted to go “home”. She was defeated. She is battling breast cancer, her husband left her, she is living with her daughter and her family and they lost so much in this past year. As we prayed, the holy spirit just took the wheel and spoke his heart over Sandra. When we were about to part, she asked if I’d call and pray with her. I ask for prayers that the Lord would lead, guide and be glorified in all our interactions.
Yes! Praying that Sandra and her family will be incredibly blessed by your obedience to the voice of the Spirit, for God is able to do so much more than we ask or imagine. I will be praying for this situation to bring glory to God.
Yes, echoing this. 🙂
Beth Williams says
My investment isn’t necessarily into 1 person but usually to groups of people. I have cooked for, served & bought items for “Recovering Soldiers Ministry”-prisoners who are hearing about Christ & changing their lives. Also help cook & serve for “Loaves & Fishes” – they feed less fortunate. At work I have a co-worker going through a trying time with her aging dad plus she moved last summer. Use my talents to help her out & pray for her. We haven’t had church in a while so I call some of the older, single women or send cards to those going through medical issues. I love that your children gave up social media. It shows they care more about face to face interactions than what you see on screen.
I love hearing exactly where the Lord is using you right now, Beth. Thank you for sharing. 🙂
connie ker says
The Lord leads me through each day as a new widow and I am so thankful to have his presence. But secondly, is my CPA son who figures my taxes for me in return for sending him to business school. Mary and Joseph traveled to be counted and pay taxes, and we are still doing the same. My mother used to say, death and taxes are 2 things you cannot avoid!
Oh Connie – I can’t even imagine being a new widow during this time of Covid. I echo your statement about thankful for HIs presence, but I know that the days must also feel long so I will pray especially that you are met during this age of isolation and loneliness.
Grateful you have a son who can help in such a practical way. My hubby does taxes too and I am so thankful. 🙂
Prayers of blessings over you today,
I hope to be there for my grown daughter but also need prayers to say or be what at least one student needs each day.
Yes, Jane. Praying for how you can meet the needs of one student today is such a beautiful desire. You will impact them in so many ways we can’t imagine.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Jen this might seem strange. God has told me to invest in my Dad. He is not saved. My Dad the type person he nice but does not know how to be a real Father to you. He does try. So I help as much as I can. Do what I can spend as much time with him as can. I am the only one saved in our family. God told me live my life in front of him for Jesus. As if you did tell him he needed to get saved he get stubborn say. Do you mind keep that to yourself please. Or something along those lines. So I just live my life in front of my Dad for Jesus. But my Dad can be stubborn at times. God showed me my Dad will not change until he gets saved. God told me just to say nothing. Just live my life as Follower of Jesus in front of him. Telling my Dad when I leave his home to go to my home. I love him. Which I do love him. I tell him that Because he my Dad. I do that anyway tell him when I leave to go home. I say love you Dad see you soon. Then this last while. I have not been so good at this. God has asked me when I go to my Dad’s home to say a quite prayer for him for him salvation. God said Dawn I want you say Lord I want you bless my Dad that lives in this home and make him see he needs you as his saviour and make him see Jesus in me his Daughter want what I have that is you as his Saviour like me his Daughter. But I do not always remember to do that. I going to have to get better at remembering to do that every time I enter my Dad’s home. As God has asked me to that. I must pray and ask God to help me not forget to do that every time I go to my Dad’s he is 80. He was good my Dad sent us me and my sisters to Sunday School. He only went himself to Church to here us if we were taking part. But now not unless someone is getting Married or Furneral that sad. I want nothing from my Dad only to see and know he is saved when his time is up. Love today reading. Love your part incourage Jen. Thank you for all you said today. I love you all incourage. Dawn Ferguson-Little
Theresa Boedeker says
I am working one on one with a few women. Right now my sister in law who needs encouragement and help getting through the day.
I am at a mental health apt with my middle-aged son today and he is the one God needs me to support so I do my very best with heavy reliance on God’s help and the support I get from friends.
Nancy Ruegg says
The name of a young woman at church has been on my mind. You’ve inspired me, Jen, to text her and see if we can’t have a Face-Time coffee or tea and get acquainted. I’m much older than she is, but my ears can still listen well!
Renee Swope says
I love this so much, Jen!! My ONE is Paige, and she is a brand new mom I met last fall at our church community group, before Covid shut it down. We’ve been texting and looking at dates to get together for the first time! Your post was such good timing to encourage me to not let our plans fall through the cracks.
Brenda M Russell says
It is my pleasure to invest in the every day lives of my three daughters; Valerie, Victoria and Vanessa.
I am fortunate to have three distinctly different young ladies. God knows how to mesmerize parents when their children are unique, intelligent and very determined to chart their own paths.
I have always had input during conversations with my daughters. I am more mature now and I understand that children don’t want to imitate their parents usually because they may seem to be uninteresting, quirky and not exciting. I guess that’s true in my case and my husband has always been very strict, especially about finances.
So now I have learned to accept the differences in my girls and truly appreciate what they have to share with me of their personalities, likes and dislikes, and knowledge and experiences.
God created them differently from me and my husband and in different generations. Music, dances, literature, styles in clothing and hair, all are different. What I am thankful for is knowing that my Girls know the love of Christ and know how to pray to our Creator. I pray with them and for them. I want to be part of their lives as God shapes and develops them into God fearing young believers of the One True Living God.
Hello! A very powerful article that has a very deep meaning! I very often think about what kind of people are around me now and what they were around me before. It is really important to give your energy to one person, and not hack into many people at once. I try to devote all my attention to my family, it seems to me that these are the most important people in our life, I also try not to use social networks, if I do, I just read something important there. It’s great that your kids don’t use them! This teaches them to be kinder and see not only online life, as many now see. Social media can be dangerous. Thanks for writing!