A quote recently hit home with me: “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.
I’ve not read much of Emerson’s writings, but isn’t that true? We all have a vision for what we could be, but isn’t it great when – or if – we have someone who affirms what we believe about ourselves or even better, sees something in us that we don’t?
Over the years I’ve been fortunate to have several people who filled that role for me. There was my fourth-grade teacher who told my mother at a PTA meeting that I was “college material.” Since no one in my family had ever gone to college, these words definitely cast a vision for myself that I didn’t have before. During my freshman year in college, an English instructor commended me on my writing ability and urged me to pursue it, even suggesting I enter writing contests – one of which I won.
My uncle, Joe Tamasy, encouraged and challenged me to always reach beyond my comfort zone to try and learn new things. He taught me not to be afraid to fail, helping me to realize failure is sometimes the surest path to success.
More than 30 years ago, after I was hired to become editor and publications director for CBMC, my boss presented my psychological profile that had been prepared while I was a candidate for the job. The evaluation called me a “diamond in the rough,” stating if they were willing to take a risk in hiring me, despite a lack of experience in magazine and book writing – part of my job description – I could prove to be a prized employee. My boss, in hiring me, took that risk and opened the door to many opportunities for me.
And about 13 years ago my friend, Dave Stoddard, pointed out although I’d been a professional journalist for 30 years, he still saw untapped potential in me. He offered, “if you need a place where you can flourish and become all God wants you to be, we have a place for you.”
Who has been that person for you? Have you ever had someone recognize something in you that until then you weren’t even sure was there – or were reluctant to acknowledge for fear of being mistaken?
Maybe it’s for that reason one of my favorite personalities in the Bible is Barnabas. After the conversion of Saul, who changed from being a fierce foe of followers of Christ to one of His more dedicated followers, Jesus’ disciples were reluctant to embrace this radical convert. But Barnabas saw something in this man, later to become known as the apostle Paul, author of many letters in the New Testament. Acting contrary to popular opinion, Barnabas befriended Saul, became his mentor, and they spent years together in fruitful ministry.
Then Paul and Barnabas had a dispute over John Mark, Barnabas’s cousin, who for some reason had bailed midway through one of their missionary journeys. Paul labeled John Mark a quitter, someone that lacked the necessary commitment to the cause. Barnabas, however, elected to part ways with Paul and stick by his cousin, again seeing something in him apparently no one else saw.
Years later Paul wrote: “My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him” (Colossians 4:10), and “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11). While Paul didn’t admit to misjudging Mark, he obviously had a change of heart – likely because Barnabas took the time and made the effort to inspire Mark to become what he knew he could be.
As it says in Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
If you’ve never had someone like that in your life, a person who has inspired you to raise your sights higher, I hope God brings one to you soon. And if you have had someone like that, how about “paying forward” – become that person for someone else. You won’t regret it.
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.