As I was walking past a guy’s desk one day in the office, a handwritten note caught my eye. It was pinned up on his small workspace bulletin board. It was one of mine. It took me a minute to remember writing it.
I looked closer and the date was five years earlier. And I asked myself, “Why would a guy keep a note from me for FIVE years?” It was right there next to pictures of his wife and kids.
Later I learned that my little note came at a time when things were bad in his personal life. I had spent a few minutes encouraging him in person and then followed up with that note to tell him I was cheering for him. In other words, he was hanging on by a thread and the Lord used my simple words and note to get him through a day where he really needed it.
Since then, I’ve learned that the Lord had used me that way in the lives of others many times. The conversations would usually start with something like, “You know what you told me once when I asked you for your advice?” That always made me a little nervous, wondering what dumb thing might’ve come out of my mouth at just the wrong time. Then they’d go on to say something like, “…you told me to leave right then to go home and take my overworked wife out for dinner. You helped me see things from her point of view and it was a pivotal day in our rocky marriage. I’ll never forget it.”
WOW. That’s when I realized that my day job was really just a platform for me to interact with lots of people who are hanging on by a thread. I learned that lots of people are hanging on by a thread.
Relationship problems, money problems, children with serious illness, etc. Just under the surface of work was this person who needed somebody they respected to throw an arm around them and tell them things are going to be okay. Turns out that it means 100 times more than I knew.
The projects we work on come and go. Whether the work goes well or fails, it fades pretty fast once we move to the next thing. But the way we treat people, the way we talk to people, the way we listen to people and cry with people…that seems to become a more vivid memory that lasts forever.
Every person you meet is fighting a hard battle. Be a good leader and maybe they’ll share it with you. Then be a good friend.