Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask. (Philem. 21)

DAVID HAD SUCH POTENTIAL. Even though he didn’t seem to be able to coordinate his long legs on the basketball court, the coach sensed that he had more going for him than just his height. More than once the coach had seen David shooting baskets after the rest of the team had gone home. The kid had talent—real talent—but you’d never know it by the way he fumbled the ball and tripped over his feet during a game. The wise coach invested time and energy helping David develop his skills and confidence. He encouraged David to believe in himself and ignore the putdowns of his teammates. He gave him opportunities to play, and David did not disappoint him.

Sarah also had great potential, although her poor performance on tests seemed to indicate otherwise. A discerning teacher looked beyond her poor grades and sullen attitude. She took the time to get to know Sarah, to become her friend. Rather than focusing on Sarah’s mistakes, she pointed out the things she got right. “You’re making wonderful progress, Sarah,” she said. “I’m proud of you.” Sarah began to blossom under her teacher’s praise. She surprised everyone, even herself, with how much she really did know.

The gift of encouragement and affirmation is powerful. We either live up to or down to what people expect of us.

Look for someone God wants you to encourage today.

Marlene Bagnull celebrated fifty-one years of marriage. She and Paul have three grown children and three grandchildren. She directs two Christian writers’ conferences.