One of my first jobs when leaving school was as an Office Junior for the regional office for the Christian denomination my family were very much involved in. (The Salvation Army Divisional Headquarters Manchester). I loved my job, although when I started I couldn’t type and even my coffee making abilities were sadly lacking. Within weeks I was sent on a course to learn to type, followed by an audio typing course. At the same time my milky coffee making ability also greatly improving, and soon everyone looked forward to 10:30 morning coffee. I also learned people favourite biscuits and as biscuit buying was part of my remit I would make sure that lemon puffs, pink wafers, milk chocolate digestive, and the occasional finger of fudge, were served each morning to the correct recipients. (There should be a chapter in “How to win friends and influence people” on making sure you get the correct biscuits to butter people up!)
I was extremely conscientious. I worked hard to improve my administration skills in the days before computers were commonplace. I remember the big heavy Underwood typewriter I leaned to type on, which seems light years away from my PC today. The keys were heavy and the act of moving the carriage along at the end of each line was an action I had quite forgot until now. Not to mention the correction papers to amend my mistakes, and the little pots of white correction fluid that only seemed to make any corrections more obvious and embarrassing. My spelling skills were not great either, and in the top drawer of my desk I kept a phonetic dictionary which was a real must and helped me greatly to decipher certain words from the audio tape that I had never heard before.
Thursday was post day, and the whole week led up to Thursday afternoon where everything had to be dispatched to all the churches for the weekend. It was always hectic and often we would stay late to make sure it was all taken to the post office for the final collection of the day. I never really minded working late, it was all part of being a team player and usually there was not too much stress. I often stayed late anyway because I hated leaving work over to the next day, I liked to start the day with a clean desk, it felt good that way. Before too long I had risen from being the post of office Junior to the dizzy heights to Divisional Commanders Secretary, and I had my own office junior who never did perfect coffee making or the biscuit thing quite like I did.
In this environment I was so appreciated and encouraged by others, both in my ability and my faith. One day one of my managers asked to see me. I knocked on his door, waited to be allowed in, and then sat down with my shorthand pad and pencil in my hand. He explained that there was no dictation; he just wanted to tell me he recognised in me such great potential. This really took me by surprise, what had he seen in me to say such touching words?
It’s a lovely moment when something like this happens, and I’ve never forgotten that day when I was encouraged in this way. Being told I had potential made me begin to believe in myself so much more, it made me wonder what my life would hold? Did I really have the potential to be someone I never dreamt I could be, to achieve something I had thought was out of my reach, to expand my horizons and outside the shadow of the fog – to really fly? I went home that night feeling like I had been given a blank cheque – I had potential! That day I truly encountered God who reached me through his servant and released me to a new level of self belief.
Thank You Father that you are all about building us up and encouraging us, and making us realise our full potential which in you is totally limitless.
Jesus – during this Lenten season – remind me again that I have been entrusted with this amazing responsibility to encourage others so that they too are free to step out of their comfort zones and scan new horizons.
Lord hear us – Lord graciously hear us!