“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 2:6-7).
I read that passage yesterday afternoon, surrounded by towering redwood trees. I had hiked up the prayer trail at Opportunity Camp, settling in on a bench that provided a great view of the trees (especially when lying flat on your back).
My thoughts and prayers drifted to the kids who were then enjoying open recreation time. I wondered how many of them had someone who spoke into their life the way that Paul spoke into the life of Timothy — because he believed in Timothy.
Too often, those who speak into our lives do not speak the truth into our lives but lies. They tear down rather than build up. Back home, many of these kids at camp experience this on a daily basis. They get told how bad they are, how worthless they are. Rather than be given aspirations, they get desperation.
I was blessed to be raised by parents who believed in me and told me so. My mother sent me a birthday card while I was in college that called forth my potential in her simple but direct way: you have the world by the tail and can swing it any way you want to.
I was also blessed to have a minister-mentor who took an awkward high school student by his side and told me he saw leadership in me.
What is the greatest gift you can give a young person? It might be to simply recognize that they have a gift and then to tell them about it. The difference between a life of mediocrity and a life of effectiveness may be the presence of someone who believes in them. It may take you believing in them before they will believe in themselves.
What may seem like a casual comment to you may be life-changing for them.