We have an effect on everyone we meet. We can touch them in a positive way and leave them better off for whatever time we spend with them, or our interactions can have a negative impact and produce the opposite results. This might be at the store, how we drive, with our neighbors, during work, and when we’re at church. This happens through our actions, our words, and even our nonverbal communications. It’s in person, on the phone, via text, and using email.
We have many opportunities to affect others. We can help them, encourage them, guide them, and pray for them. Or we can irritate them, cause them distress, criticize them, and discourage them. We can make their day a bit brighter or a tad duller. We can subtly point them to Jesus or turn them off.
Though I want to live my life with intention and have a positive effect on everyone all the time, I fear I fall short more often than not. Here’s what I recently learned about this:
We Don’t Always Know the Effect We Have On Others: A few weeks ago I was at a writers conference. I attend it every year to learn and to share. Three people surprised me by individually taking time to thank me for something I said or did for them the year before. Who would have known?
We Need to Thank People When They Impact Us: Another person thanked me for the writing newsletter I send out each week. She told me how helpful it is for her and that she looks forward to it. I thanked her for her encouragement. What I didn’t tell her was that I was quite discouraged with the newsletter: for the time it takes to do each week and my assumption that no one really cared. She refueled me to press on.
Sometimes God Leads Us to People When They Need it the Most: I also led a couple of breakout sessions at the conference. The second one did not go well. Though I know I shared useful information and provided value, I also feared I caused just as much confusion. I do know I didn’t communicate clearly: talking too fast and stumbling over my spew of words. When it was over the phrase “train wreck” kept popping into my mind.
Then our enemy, the father of lies, began his attack. My mind quickly spiraled out of control. Within an hour I had retreated to the bathroom to wallow in despair. I couldn’t think clearly and didn’t know what to do. Prayer eluded me.
When I emerged from my seclusion a friend’s gaze caught my attention. I don’t know if she beckoned me or if I was drawn to her. She thanked me for my presentation, the information I shared, and the value I provided.
She couldn’t be talking about me; surely she must be confused. But no, she had sat in the back row during my session. She was there for my train wreck but didn’t see it that way.
I thanked her profusely and told her just how much I needed to hear her words. My eyes misted over, and I gave her a hug of appreciation. Her words rejuvenated me, and the rest of the conference went great – thanks to one person willing to follow God’s prompting to search me out. She had a positive effect on me just when I needed it the most.
[This is from Peter DeHaan‘s October newsletter, “Spiritually Speaking.” Do you want to receive his complete newsletter each month?]