Have you ever experienced the power of being noticed by someone? Being truly seen by them? I can think of a few times this has happened to me, and not only did those moments profoundly affect that day, but my life as well, as I regularly recount these stories with others.
One such moment happened many years ago. I was fresh out of college working my first internship with a church. My passion for discipleship far exceeded my experience, and in my zeal to see God do big things, I asked to meet with the Senior Minister. I didn’t realize it then, but he was gracious with his time and sat down with me for 30 minutes as I laid out my grand vision for how we could become a disciple-making church.
After patiently listening to me and asking a few questions, he said something that I believe was meant to let me down gently, but ultimately crushed my spirit.
“I appreciate what you’ve shared, Wes. I’m going to shelve this for a while, and I’ll let you know if we can do something like this in the future.”
I knew what happened to things that get shelved.
In all my excitement to make a difference in our church, I wasn’t prepared to be told no. Because of this, I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that welled up in me. I was frustrated, angry, and embarrassed. Frustrated that my expectations weren’t met, angry that my ideas weren’t given serious consideration, and embarrassed that I had so freely opened up my passion to someone who didn’t appear to value it.
To be fair, this wasn’t the fault of the pastor, and I now appreciate the space he gave me to voice my opinion. And I bet if I asked him now he would acknowledge a valuable opportunity he missed to cultivate the passion (however misguided) of a young leader.
Thankfully, God doesn’t miss opportunities.
As I was leaving the church that day, head down and shoulders slumped, my boss stopped his car in front of me.
“Get in,” he said. “Let’s go get a drink.”
I tried to brush him off, but he insisted. Over the next hour we sat at a McDonald’s and I reshared my passion with him. He listened patiently, and then he said something I will never forget.
“God has given you a small area of oversight in the sports ministry, and it’s your job to be faithful with what He has given you. So implement this vision for discipleship in the sports ministry, and if God has bigger plans for you, then one of two things will happen: Either an opportunity will present itself here or God will lead you elsewhere.”
And that’s exactly what happened, as I now regularly coach pastors, businessmen & women, and churches to pursue the vision God has given them.
But that’s not what makes this story so impactful for me. When I left the church that day, it was 8:30pm. My boss had finished a long day and I’m sure was anxious to get home to see his family. It would have been easy for him to drive right by me as I sulked through the parking lot. Yet he didn’t. He made a choice to stop.
He noticed me. And not only did he notice me. He also took a moment to minister to my heart.
I think that’s how people felt when they were with Jesus.
Whatever you’re facing today, I want you to know Jesus notices you. Share your passions, your fears, and your doubts with Him, because he knows you better than you know yourself.
And try to see the world through His eyes. In a time of social distancing and limited face-to-face interaction, people are longing to be seen. As you go about your day, ask the Holy Spirit to help you notice someone today. You never know how it might change the course of their life.