“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” – Matthew 20:16, NIV
Years later, Ethan could still remember how he felt that moment as the clock inside the gym ticked. He waited with a growing sense of dread as all the other kids in his class were picked for teams.
When the moment came, the captain of his team looked at him scornfully, “Try not to mess up the game for the rest of us, Lardo.”
The words cut deep into Ethan’s heart. From that moment on, Ethan defined himself with a host of negative words: Unwanted. Last. Worthless.
He was already the victim of bullying by his older brother at home. His parents turned a blind eye because his brother was seen as “the good one.” He got the right grades. He made the Dean’s list. He earned a baseball scholarship.
Ethan struggled to do well in school. He had trouble reading, and he slowly found himself slipping into a deep depression.
But William, the school’s new engineering teacher, noticed the boy. While Ethan struggled with most of his school assignments, he had a solid grasp on how to build things. He easily created a birdhouse, picture frames, and even a bookshelf.
William always paused to compliment Ethan’s work and encourage him. He let Ethan stay after class to work on projects, so he didn’t have to go home. He inspired Ethan to seek a degree in engineering and even wrote a letter of recommendation on his behalf.
Years later, Ethan graduated from college at the top of his class. He smiles when he thinks of William. “If there’s one person who changed my life, it was him. He was the first person to believe in me. He taught me that I could do more with my life.”
God, give me eyes to see the people around me that need encouragement. Let me speak life and kindness over them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.