Pastor’s Pastor

Words of encouragement:

The impact of an experienced pastor’s words

Ramon J. Canals, DMin, serves as secretary of the Ministerial Association, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.

Henry Frasca, a nine-year-old boy from Massachusetts, learned that a player from an opposing team was discouraged because he had fallen into a batting slump. Henry felt compelled to act when he observed that Davis was entrenched in a 0-for-54 hitless streak—the longest in Major League Baseball (MLB) history. In an interview, he said, “When someone’s hurting, I didn’t like it.”1 Motivated by empathy, he wrote a letter to the struggling first baseman.

Henry’s message to Davis was heartfelt and encouraging: “There are two things I want you to know. First, the way you play baseball has nothing to do with how good a person you are. Also, you are incredible. You play in the MLB. You’ve done it for a long time and everyone goes through a slump. Don’t give up. We’re rooting for you. Sincerely, Henry Frasca.”2

In a twist of fate, on the day Henry’s letter reached Davis in April, the first baseman shattered his infamous record with a three-hit game, including two doubles. Davis revealed to the reporter that the letter had struck a chord with him. He carried it tucked inside his Bible throughout the season. “It definitely caught me off-guard,” he admitted. “But, it meant enough to me for me to carry it around the rest of the day. It was pretty cool. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little choked up.”3 Reflecting on the significance of this act of kindness, Davis said, “People don’t really realize how they impact us.” . . . “At that moment in time, going through what I was going through, to get a letter that was that encouraging—especially from a 9-year-old—it was pretty special.”4

“At that moment in time, going through what I was going through, to get a letter that was that encouraging—especially from a 9-year-old—it was pretty special.”

The ripple effect of words of kindness in sports and beyond

This heartwarming story serves as a poignant reminder of the profound influence of kindness and how our words and actions can offer powerful encouragement to those in need, no matter how small.

Have you ever been deeply moved by the words of a powerful preacher? Do you remember the words someone said to you that had profoundly impacted you? Let me share a personal experience that shows the immense power of words spoken on time.

Having rejected God’s call to the gospel ministry, I never gave it another thought. The shadows of my past mistakes, combined with the absence of a high school diploma, seemed to seal my fate. But a single encounter, guided by words spoken in divine timing by a seasoned pastor, shifted my trajectory.

While attending a camp meeting, l met a pastor who used words that forever changed my life. Our conversation turned toward my potential education in a religious institution, to which I candidly shared my hesitations arising from past failures. His simple yet profound response transformed my perspective: “Young man, God doesn’t look at your past mistakes nor even your present situation. He sees what you can become through the power of His grace.”

His words, perhaps spoken in a moment, became the cornerstone of my ministerial journey, illuminating a path obscured by past regrets. They testify to the transformative power of words when spoken with intent and compassion.

The unique impact of experienced pastors’ words for good or evil

Ellen G. White wrote, “What we do or say may seem to us of little moment, when, could our eyes be opened, we should see that upon it depended the most important results for good or for evil.”5

As pastors, we must always recognize the significant impact attached to our words. Let us always choose them wisely, recognizing their power to shape destinies. Let our speech be a beacon of hope, grace, and love, echoing the divine purpose for which we have this gift.

In the pages of Scripture, we often encounter verses that underscore words’ value: “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24, NIV). Words can heal, uplift, and bring hope. But just as they have the power to elevate, words also have the power to wound, diminish, and dishearten. Within the church, the voice of an experienced pastor plays a significant role in directing which of these paths the church takes.

An encouraging word can be an inspiration of hope during life’s storms. Experienced pastors, having weathered many such storms themselves, can offer solace that resonates, bringing peace and comfort to troubled souls. Would you allow the Holy Spirit to use you to speak words of encouragement to those in need?

  1. Helen Murphy, “Boy Meets Orioles Player After Sending Him Supportive Letter: ‘Everyone Goes Through a Slump,’ ” People.com, August 27, 2019, https://people.com/sports/boy-meets-orioles-player-after-sending-letter/.
  2. Murphy.
  3. Murphy.
  4. Murphy.
  5. Ellen G. White, Testimonies on Sabbath-School Work (Washington, DC: Review and Herald, 1900), 117.

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Ramon J. Canals, DMin, serves as secretary of the Ministerial Association, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.

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