“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up. . .” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
My undistinguished military service was anything but influential . . . except for one obscure, humorous incident. Once while going through basic training, exhausted from a particularly grueling day we had hit the showers early before retiring to our bunks for a few precious hours of sleep. Now, I’ve never been one to sing in the shower, but for some reason that evening I was quietly entertaining myself by humming a little tune when the guy next to me overheard it and said, “Hey, man, sing that a little louder.” Next thing I knew he started singing along. Then someone else chimed in, then another. Before long there was a whole chorus of naked boot camp buddies harmonizing in the shower having the time of their lives. After that, almost every evening that same group of guys would gather around thinking up songs, snapping their fingers, laughing and singing their hearts out. Could they ever sing!
Anyone who has endured the rigors of military training will identify with the importance of developing camaraderie, of helping and encouraging each other. It’s one of the objectives, of course. And those guys who sang in the shower together became great comrades. Even though I was the instigator, I was never really part of the group after that, not because I wasn’t invited, I just didn’t have the ability to sing the way they could.
We never know when the seeds we scatter will sprout into a tree, when some kind act or encouraging word will be a spark that ignites something greater. A pleasant “thank you” to a store clerk, making room for another motorist to move into your lane, a phone call to check up on a friend, a kind word to a fellow passenger on an airplane, a warm smile, or a friendly handshake – little gestures can make a huge difference, even humming a happy tune in the shower.
Admittedly, when I was in the shower that evening I was so self-absorbed that I was oblivious to anyone who might be eavesdropping. Who would have thought that I was encouraging a whole chorus of guys to become great friends? It taught me something, though, and that is to never doubt the influence little actions can have on others, no matter how seemingly obscure. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up . . .” In these difficult times we could use that more than ever, couldn’t we?