Potential encouragement

This past Sunday, Pastor Mark Jeske’s final broadcast for Time of Grace aired. For the past 18 years, his sweet messages of God’s amazing grace first reached only hundreds, then thousands, and now millions of people. 

As I watched this look-back video, I couldn’t help but reminisce. When I was in my early 20s, I joined the church where he was the pastor. I learned so much from Pastor Jeske’s messages that I started bringing my Bible to church. (What a novel concept!) I began taking notes in it, and the margins are now full of his insights.

A few years after that, he asked me to start a youth ministry. (What a foolish decision that was!) Sure, I was passionate and committed, yet I was completely unprepared and naive. Still, my fumbling beginnings led to a ministry that lasted long after I had moved away.

While we lived wherever the Coast Guard took us, we would watch Time of Grace (initially on VHS that my mom had recorded for us from the local channel and then sent in the mail). Seeing Pastor Jeske in front of that church was like seeing a piece of home.

Six years ago, when the time came for Time of Grace to add a female voice to the blog, Pastor Mark gave the staff my name. His rationale? He liked my family’s Christmas letter. Since then I’ve gone from writing these weekly blog posts to writing devotions, completing a children’s devotional book, and writing two smaller books.

Sure, this little look back is nostalgic for me, but what does it have to do with you? Two things.

1. Appreciate the people who saw your potential.
When I first took on the youth ministry, I was not a parent. I had zero idea how to work with kids in grades 3-8. Yet Pastor Mark took the stress off by telling me, “Just start working. If this ministry is God’s will, it will take off.” 

Throughout your life, God will give you people who see what gifts you have and encourage you to use them—even when you have little to no experience. These people are placed at just the right time to empower you to use God’s gifts for his glory. Take the time to thank them—and God—for the good things they have done in your life. In a world of constant self-promotion, giving credit to those who helped you along the way is a good lesson in humility and gratitude.

2. Look for potential in others.
Now you get to pay it forward! As today’s young people (and older people, for that matter) live in a high-pressure, perfection-driven, nitpicking society, you get to be countercultural. You have the privilege of being an encourager and supporter. You have the blessing of looking for the good in people and being quick to compliment them. You get to identify skills and help others use them to bring God glory. You mentor them as they overcome fears, learn from mistakes, and accept grace. You have the privilege of reminding them that God will bless the plans he has for their lives. 

Thanks, Pastor Mark, for your ministry to millions. Personally, though, thanks for seeing more potential in me than I ever saw in myself. I will always be grateful.


Linda Buxa is a writer and editor. She’d love to hear which people encouraged you in your life. Leave a note in the comments. 



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