How to Tell Someone They Made a Difference
Download this free printable that helps you tell someone they made a difference in your life.
A Sad Day
I went to a memorial service today for a former co-worker at the local newspaper where I worked a little over ten years ago. It was a small service with just a couple handfuls of people that consisted of family, coworkers, a few friends, and some people from our community who respected him. People were able to speak up and tell something they knew or remembered about the man. I wanted to speak but I get far too emotional about things like that and I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to say. After all, I had only worked at the paper for about one year. Within the last ten years he had left the community to work at a paper in another town for a number of years before returning to our town a few years ago. When he returned to work at our town’s paper I was happy because I knew he was a great reporter and writer and cared about covering the news in our small town. I told him I was glad he was back when I was in the newspaper office one day.
Reflecting a Life
After the service I had to go run another errand in another town. On my way there I broke down and cried a bit. I couldn’t understand why I was so emotional over his death especially since it had been so long since I had worked with him. I contemplated that during my drive and for the most of the rest of the day. Everyone who spoke at the memorial service mentioned how kind he was, which was true. How intelligent and smart he was, also true. But what was it about him that made me mourn?
I began to think about my time at the paper. I was hired at a tough time in my life, low on confidence and funds. The editor gave me a chance although I had no writing experience other than English composition classes in college. The writer I was replacing showed me the ropes and grumbled about this man in a gossipy sort of way. Although this man didn’t have any love loss for her either, he never said it out loud. You could just tell by his demeanor. Quite frankly, I don’t think he gave two nickels about what her opinion of him was, that was the way he was. He walked to the beat of his own drum without being overbearing. He was also responsible for editing articles and he took that seriously. I don’t think the other writer appreciated his critiques.
At any rate, I preferred to form my own opinions. My opinion of her was not going well because of her “backstabbing” attitude. I had just left a job with a co-worker like that six months earlier and I didn’t have much time for that kind of behavior. Anyway, after she left the paper I was glad to be on my own. As it turned out this man was a great help to me in this writing adventure I had embarked on. He was a great mentor and was always very kind about editing my writing, answering my questions, and teaching me in general. I think once he figured out I wasn’t going to be a “know it all” and that I had respect for him and his experience and knowledge we got along quite well. Turns out he had a great sense of humor that was understated, it sort of popped out when you least expected.
The Light Bulb Moment
So there it was, he was a valued mentor in my life. What truly saddened me about his death was that I never took the time to tell him. I never thought about telling him that he made a difference in my life. I guess I just thought he would always be around. Now I am thinking about who else I had missed the opportunity to tell how and why they were of value to me. Life is too short to not be grateful for all those people who have made a difference in your life no matter how small the difference might have been.
I often wonder myself if I have had any value to someone in this world. Have I ever said or done anything that helped a person turn their life around? Have I shared or demonstrated in a positive way the good news of Jesus Christ? Have I ever been an encouragement or a mentor to someone? I guess I would like to know before my time on this earth is done.
What do you suppose the world would be like if people began sharing how another person has brought value to their life? I think you would see people becoming more grateful and gracious at the same time. At the very least those who are grateful would help make another person feel appreciated. Those who are appreciated, in turn, would continue to be gracious to others knowing that they made a difference in at least one other person.
The conclusion I have come to today is that I will take the time to let those who have made small and big differences in my life know they have done so. They need to know that they and their actions have not gone unnoticed. My challenge to you is to do the same. It might seem weird to you or the person you are sharing with, but do it anyway, it will stand out in their memory. Write that person a note (I mean a handwritten note, not a text or an email), say how much they mean to you, mention the specific thing they did or said that made the difference in your life. Someday that person will understand and be grateful for your kind words. They will know that the good works God started in them will continue on in you. I know it’s too late to tell this man his value to me but I can think of no better tribute than to express it in the written word.
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Phillipians 1:6 NLT
In Memory of
Kenneth Lee Ross