We called him Rocky and everyone at the basketball club loved him. Everyone but me. He was older, he was cool, most importantly he was an excellent player. Even though I hated him, I wanted to be as good as him at basketball. The reason for my hate was simple – he never stopped shouting at me, pointing out my on court mistakes, telling me how to play. He didn’t do this to any of the other players – just me. One night after a practise in which Rocky had yet again verbal dismantled me, I trudged off the court. Then a strange thing happened, Rocky caught up to me and said something like this: ‘The reason I shout at you and get on your case is because you can be the best player here – better than me.’
I was stunned. I had no idea. Why hadn’t he told me this before! I remember this story as I look at the various young leaders than I try to help and I realise that I am often guilty of doing a Rocky. That is I hold really high standards for them, and try to help them achieve these standards by constantly suggesting what I think they should do, but I hardly ever let them know why I do this – because I think they can be better than me.
Jesus often spoke seemingly harsh words to His disciples, but the Rabbinic culture told them that when Jesus asked them to follow Him, He was doing much more than that – He was communicating that He thought they could do what He did, that He believed they could be His disciples. The world saw fisherman, tax collectors and alike, Jesus saw mirrors for His glory. Who’s lives are you speaking into? Do they know you believe in them?