Dwight “D.L.” Moody was a famous nineteenth century evangelist who saw countless thousands of lives impacted in North America and England through his speaking, training, publishing and welfare works. His impressive ability to speak with conviction and authority came at the age of eighteen when he committed his life to Christ after being confronted by his Sunday School teacher in the shop in which he worked.
Ed Kimball was far less capable and fluent and actually found it quite awkward to speak with his protégé whom he felt to be rebellious and uninterested. Moody had turned to selling shoes to and was set on a successful business career. Kimball went to into his world and saw it turned upside down. As Kimball confronted Moody’s self-sufficiency and his need of Christ, he importantly amplified his own desire to be effective by empowering another person’s untapped gifts. Moody turned from peddling soles to saving souls because of a brave challenge by a man who could have justified staying home and minding his own business that day.
The power of seeing one person transformed at a time cannot be underestimated. It is God’s enabling through us, but it inspires us as we see that it is not only about what we do, but what others do because of what we do. Kimball’s burning passion to see thousands of lives changed was fulfilled because he first saw one life changed. I spoke recently with an older man whose passion for community service was somewhat unfulfilled, but he became excited by the prospect of passing the baton to others who would then carry on the work he had begun.
What we so often want to see done is not intended to be done through us alone. We shine brightest not only when we shine in partnership with others, but when we find those who are not yet burning and light their flame to help them become partners, in the first place.