In my book, Dressed For Victory: Putting On the Full Armor of God, I discuss the Apostle Paul and how many of us—even Paul himself—might question how we could possibly be an encouraging example to anyone. He’s in prison, so why would any of us, or any of his peers during his time, want to follow his example? How would his revelations as he observes his captor, the Roman soldier, inspire any of us? And, further, why wouldn’t we question what he observes with the soldier? In reality, Paul went on to inspire many. He advocated for others, and, as I detailed in my last post, was an effective ambassador for his people and his faith—trusted, revered, and respected. His story, instead of becoming one that would upset people, became one that encouraged others.
In chapter 10 of my book, I talk deeply about how many would-be mentors would never see their inspiration through to fruition if they gave their mistakes too much thought. Many times, it is those very mistakes or mishaps that inspire people, yet most people will stop themselves from sharing these valuable stories simply because they feel shame or don’t want to relive a difficult time. When you rebound from challenges, however, you do inspire others. We can learn from Paul and see clearly that the pressures in life are abundant, and the situations that we find ourselves in might not always be desirable, but we can come back from adversity to incite others to greatness. At the very least, we can inspire others to move out of their less than desirable situation into a better one, knowing that, someday, they too could have a valuable experience to share with others.
God does work in mysterious ways. We hear that all the time, and we usually see it as a bit of a cliché or a trite statement when people don’t know quite what to say. However, I maintain that He does work through us in ways that we don’t always understand right away. If we can see the value in whatever situation we find ourselves in and understand that, with His guidance, we will emerge better for it, we can become His instruments of joy, hope, and, at a very human level, the very example of what to do in dire or difficult situations. This is how we can inspire and encourage others.
It is easy to forget that our experiences can be inspiring, especially when we are in recovery mode ourselves or have moved on to less challenging days. Also, when we are searching for a direction in our own lives, it does require some effort to reach out to others and share experiences. In these times, we must remember to live in Paul’s example—to put on the Armor of God—and to inspire and encourage when the opportunities present themselves. As I say in my book, “Remember, He tells us and shows us that it is not position, problems, pressure, or predicaments in life that provide guidance and good examples; it is the capacity, the space, and the faith you have given to God in your life so that God might show Himself through you and to reach others through you.”