As it turned out, my room was right next to our dormitory’s Resident Assistant (RA) room at college. Though Frank, my RA, was older, bigger, stronger, more athletic and handsome than I was (that didn’t take much), he seemed to enjoy spending time with an underclassman like me anyway!
Not long after settling into the Bible college routine, Frank came to me and asked me to be the “Prayer Chairman” for our floor of thirty one guys. I didn’t know what a position like that entailed, but with his encouragement, I decided to give it a try.
Frank also worked in the “Dish Room” at the college cafeteria. That’s where the dishes, cups and silver were washed and then put back into the serving lines. He suggested I apply for a job there to help with my expenses. So I gave it a try and was accepted (even though I had very little dishwashing experience from home!)
As my first year of college began to draw to a close, Frank encouraged me to apply for an RA position my next year. This was a big surprise to me. RA positions were highly coveted in those days and very difficult to get. He said he would put in a good word for me, and he did.
Though I made it through the interview process, I didn’t get the job. Frank seemed more disappointed than I was! Surprisingly, he didn’t stop encouraging me. Before long he had convinced the leadership in the “Dish Room” to promote me to a shift supervisor.
Towards the end of my two years with Frank, I asked him who would take over my job as “Prayer Chairman” of our floor when I left. He said he didn’t know, but it was his smile that encouraged me to dig deeper. He finally admitted that he had “made up” the position to give me a chance to show if I had any leadership potential. When he saw the way I handled that responsibility, he looked for other opportunities for me to pursue that would help me to grow as a leader.
I was surprised, humbled and honored. Frank had seen potential in me that I hadn’t seen. And he always supported me and encouraged me along the way, especially when the going was tough.
Frank could have been just an RA to me. That’s all he was compensated to do. But, he went the extra mile and became my friend and my mentor. And because it was a pivotal time in my personal and spiritual development, Frank, maybe more than anyone else in my young adult life, helped me to see that God could use me, maybe even as a leader.
Almost forty years later, I want to be more like Frank! I want to see the people God puts around me the way Frank saw me. People who may have hidden potential that is just waiting to be brought out and nurtured. People who may need to have some responsibility, even if it has to be invented!
The path for me to become a leader was significantly enhanced by an RA who made me “Prayer Chairman” and then became one of my best cheerleaders. I thank the Lord for Frank, and for all the others who have invested in me in like manner.
As it turns out, God probably has put people around you who also need a chance, who need a cheerleader. Who are they? What are you waiting for? Invest in people! Maybe forty years later they will still remember you also!