Recently, I was standing in line waiting to be checked in for an appointment to have some allergy testing done. There were several people with the same plan, and the process was taking way too long. Some were becoming impatient. By the time they reached the check-in desk, the sound of their voices had reached a level that reminded me of a car engine operating on more than 8 cylinders. One person asked the young woman, “What’s taking so long, and why are you so slow?”
When it was my turn, the young woman looked at me with a stare that seemed to scream, if you breathe too loud, I will spit dragon fire on you. I smiled and said, “You are doing fine--you are supposed to be here because they knew you could handle the nonsense.” She lifted her head higher, smiled back at me, and responded, “Thank you.” The side effect of my words may have been encouragement, but my intent was to show the young woman she was of value.
We often speak of encouraging a person, but what is more often needed is acknowledging them as a gifted, talented, one-of-a-kind person who without him/her there would be a big hole unfulfilled, at work, at home, at school, in the classroom, at church or any number of settings.
To encourage is to inspire hope, instill courage and strength, and inject new zeal into a person or a group of people. Value places a degree of self-worth on the person or thing. Giving value to a person says a particular individual brings something to the table that no one else can at an exact moment in time. It suggests something has worth, is precious, and is something you will care for, protect, and treat as treasure.
There is a story in the Bible about a man named Zacchaeus who had less than a stellar reputation because his occupation was tax collecting. Not only did he collect taxes, but he supervised the collections and then obtained his personal wealth by pocketing unfair charges. He was a social outcast within his community. He was also a very short man and had to climb a tree to see someone passing by. One day he was summoned from his tree and asked to host dinner at his house for one of the most famous people in the community. An amazing thing happened following the invitation. Zacchaeus asked forgiveness of all those he cheated and gave half of his possessions to the poor. To others, he was a “loser,” a nobody. But the invitation expressed his value. It was not anchored in his behavior or reputation, but on the worth within him. It identified him as he truly was.
Jean E. Syswerda, a contributor to a Bible devotional, writes Just Call Me Ma! It is based on the Proverbs 31 Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character. She says that multiple times a day, her family calls her “Ma” when they need something like clothes, supper, a ride to the football game, etc. She ends her reflections by expressing the value of her place in the family:
“My children may never rise up and call me blessed. But I’ll settle for “Ma!”
You can take great joy in knowing that you are Divinely created with priceless value in love. You are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and personalized with specific talents, abilities, and excellence to fulfill your purpose. God never hiccups or makes a mistake about your worth. You are an original, patented by Him, protected from being imitated.
There is no need for envy or jealousy. Focus on the value that you contribute to yourself and others during your life journey, and I guarantee your cup will run over with your treasure.
1 Syswerda, Jean E. Just Call Me Ma!, NIV Women’s Devotional Bible, Prov. 31, (Grand Rapid’s Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1990, 1994), 725.