Several years ago, Farmers Insurance came up with a brilliant tagline, one that I’ve found myself repeating when the occasion fits. While their ads may vary from the zany to the ridiculous, they always end on the same note.
“We know a thing or two, because we’ve seen a thing or two.”
And I’d like to propose the idea that this line holds an element of truth for all of us, no matter our age or stage in life. We’ve all seen a thing or two, whether you are a high school student, a mom of littles, an empty nester, or a retired grandpa. We’ve all seen our share of experiences, and they run the gamut from broken relationships, health issues, financial woes, or job changes. So the question is not IF we’ve seen a thing or two. The question is what do we do with what we’ve seen?
I don’t care who you are…there is always someone coming along behind you in the trenches. Someone who needs your advice, your encouragement, your sympathy, your counsel. A high school senior has a wealth of information to share with the lost and lonely freshman wandering down the hall. The mom of littles can coach a single person through the trials of dating and marriage. An empty nester has reached the other side of the heights of parenting challenges and knows full well what worked…and what did not. And the retired grandpa can offer the perspective of someone who has survived all the highs and lows of each season and can encourage others to remain faithful and believe in the faithfulness of God.
It would be pretty easy to coast along and convince ourselves we lack the knowledge and experience necessary to help someone else do it better. But 1 Timothy 4:12 doesn’t pull any punches. Paul says to his young protégé, Timothy, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” No excuses. You’ve got something to offer. Don’t listen to the lies of the enemy that tell you to keep your mouth shut. Oh, he knows once you start talking, his schemes will be subverted
And for those who are older, the tendency can be to look back and focus on our failures rather than our successes, to see all the things we did wrong rather than all we did right. But here’s the bottom line. It’s a package deal. Those lined up behind you? They need to hear all of your stories, not just the ones that make you look good. Because ultimately, the goal is to make God look good, to encourage others to hang in and hang on because they, too, can testify as David did in Psalm 27:13: “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
See, the enemy will try to make you feel ashamed of your failures, which is so infuriating since he was likely the cause of them in the first place. But this is when you turn the tables on him. Sharing your failures in a way that shows the redemption and grace of God completely undoes his efforts to shut us down or shut us up. And in the end, we can say as Joseph said to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives,” (Genesis 50:20). Oh, there are few things as beautiful as a life poured out for others for the sake of the Kingdom. I get to be part of that, and so do you.
You’ve seen a thing or two.
So now you know a thing or two.
Now it’s time to share a thing or two.