Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
When I was in my second semester of seminary, I took a Bible class on the overview of the Prophets to the Gospels. The teacher was knowledgeable and witty and seemed to have a good rapport with his students. He would frequently say things, that would challenge what I believed, but in a way that stated my belief was wrong and his was right. The way he handled the Word of God irritated me, like nails on a chalkboard. But everyone else seemed to think he was amazing.
One day we were discussing Romans 17:24–28, Paul’s speech to the people of Athens. I commented on how powerful and moving it was, how clearly the Lord was with him and inspiring his words. But the professor said, “It wasn’t that good a speech, only a couple people were saved that day”.
I was so upset by his comment, I could barely see straight. And yet my fellow classmates didn’t say a word. I knew Paul’s powerful words had saved thousands of people over the years and since when has it ever been a numbers game?
I had another class right after this and arrived early, consumed with my thoughts about the past discussion. I was feeling strongly that seminary was not for me; I just didn’t fit in. If this is what teachers and students were like, I wanted no part of it.
As I sat there, lost in my thoughts, a fellow student came up to me and greeted me. The young man kindly asked how I was doing, and that was all it took.
The whole emotional story came pouring out, along with some tears and nose blowing. I felt sorry for this poor unsuspecting young man, it wasn’t his fault I was so upset. I was sure he would excuse himself as soon as possible.
But he didn’t, he stood there and listened. And then he encouraged me. He said, I did belong here, that I was a student of the Word and God had already given me a voice to inspire and lead others. I was thinking, how can this young man know that?
And then he told me, how my enthusiasm for God’s Word was contagious. He said he wanted to be more like me when he shared his faith and talked about God’s Word.
I was so encouraged. It wasn’t my great wisdom (good thing, I don’t have much), it was my simple love of the Lord that helped him and affected him.
I thought, okay, I can do that. I can share my passion and love of God’s Word and let the Holy Spirit do the real work of changing and moving on the hearts of others. I remained another two years in seminary, eventually getting my masters in Bible and theology. All because a young man took a moment to encourage me.
A little encouragement goes along way.
Prayer: Thank you Father for the people you have sent into my life that have encouraged me. Help me to do the same to others. I love you Lord. Amen.