speak life

Written by Dan King

Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. school of ministry and missions instructor. president of fistbump media, llc.

April 26, 2013

I was tired. Worn out. All I could think about was the minutes (or hours) counting down until I would be fast asleep in the comfort of my own bed.

You have to understand, I had just spent the last few days at a retreat where I was one of only five guys in attendance. I was there as a panel speaker, an event sponsor, and to serve a friend who was fulfilling her dream to encourage others to pursue their dreams. I’m not saying it was a bad experience being around that many women for a whole weekend, but I did suffer withdrawals from having any kind of meaningful conversation about important things like grilling, fixing things, or the upcoming NFL draft. Women like to talk, but not usually about awesome man stuff like that.

So as a dude, I was looking forward to the first opportunity I would have to hide-out in a virtual man-cave and relax in silence.

But, nope. Not this time.

This time the seat next to me on the airplane home would be filled by one of the women from the retreat. And because I made this trip to serve others, I had to stay “on” for a little while longer.

So I asked questions, and she shared. I knew the questions I was asking weren’t easy ones like, “How about the weather this weekend?” or “Who do you think the Chiefs are going to take with the first pick in the draft?” Instead, I asked questions that required deep responses. I asked questions that would ultimately open all kinds of doors; doors that an exhausted man normally wouldn’t have the energy to open.

What I found was a woman wounded by circumstances in life she could never control. Wounded by people who had no business putting expectations and judgment on her as they did. Unfortunately, far too often this is the kind of life experienced by a pastor’s kid.

It reminded me of another pastor’s kid I know. For him, the pressure was so great that he started drinking at about 14 or 15 years old. By the time he turned 21 he was an alcoholic who wound up in the ER after blacking out. His life is different now, but only because someone chose to speak life into him.

And as I watched the woman on the plane pour out her heart, I felt prodded to look at her with a heart of compassion. You know that the word compassion means “to suffer with,” not “to feel sorry for,” right? And then she told me that she’d rather be out meeting the needs of the downtrodden than to be sitting in a church with the people who judge and condemn her.

That’s when it hit me. Even though she feels beat down by life, her heart is still to bless other people. Her heart is to lift people up.

That’s when I told her that I admire her.

I’ll never forget the look of shock and confusion on her face. She looked like she couldn’t understand how someone like me could ever look up to her when so many people like me have looked down on her.

I told her that I admired her because no matter how bad things have gotten in her life, she still looked at the world with the heart of God. Her heart beat in rhythm with His. I told her that I admired people like her who have had more than their share of crap dumped all over them, yet still pursue hope and redemption for the least of these.

I know those words affected her deeply.

She needed someone to speak life to her. I could almost see the healing happening when my words started sinking in.

We all need people to speak life to us, don’t we?

And that’s a mission that’s more important than any other self-centered desire to tune someone out and rest.

So speak Life, speak Life.
To the deadest darkest night.
Speak life, speak Life.
When the sun won’t shine and you don’t know why.
Look into the eyes of the brokenhearted;
Watch them come alive as soon as you speak hope,
You speak love, you speak…
You speak Life, You speak Life.

~ TobyMac

63 Comments

  1. Patricia W Hunter

    What a gift you gave this woman, Dan. Oh, that we would all see that every thing we do and every where we go can be an opportunity to “speak life” into the heart and soul of the sojourners around us.

    Reply
    • Dan King

      That’s my mission… I wonder what the world would be like if everyone in the church took very seriously the charge to speak life into other people like that. It’s powerful!

      Reply
  2. Diane Bailey

    Dan, my friend the Dude! When we arrived at the retreat, I didn’t recognize that you were “the Dude”, but I have been reading your blogs for a little while. Your gentle, quiet mannerisms are the anthesis of the mighty man of God that resides inside of you. You had my heart as a new little brother from the first knuckle bump! I’m honored to know you, Dude!

    Reply
    • Dan King

      Wow… “mighty man of God”… I’m honored that you would say that about me! And it was GREAT getting to know you too! You are precious! And I LOVED teaching you about the fine art of photo-bombing!

      Reply
  3. Shelly Miller

    Love this Dan, your heart to listen and speak life to someone who needed it. SO glad you were there at the retreat. It was an honor to meet you and I look forward to what God has in store for us as partners in ministry together.

    Reply
    • Dan King

      Likewise! Meeting and hanging out with you in person was another one of my highlights of the weekend! I look forward to what God has in store too!

      Reply
  4. Ann Kroeker

    Speaking words of life, and listening intently with respect. You do both so well.

    Reply
    • Dan King

      Thanks Ann! I try… it’s not always easy, but I really try!

      Reply
  5. kelli woodford

    oh, Dan. *tears*
    thank you for having the eyes and the words of Jesus. for being Jesus to her, and so many of us who find ourselves beaten down but not giving up.
    i admire *you*.

    Reply
    • Dan King

      Wow… thanks Kelli! you rock! you really, really do! i loved getting to meet you in person last weekend, and only regret that we didn’t get more time to spend together. next time…

      Reply
  6. Paul Steinbrueck

    Way to go Dan on listening and speaking life to your flight neighbor! Sometimes it seems like everything around us is working to deceive us into believing that we are less than we really are – life’s hardships, the negative comments of others, our own emotions and negative self-talk (aka the devil, the world & our sinful flesh).

    We all need to be reminded of the truth… you are fearfully & wonderfully made… For I know the plans I have for you… the LORD is near to the brokenhearted… God works all things for the good… I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…

    Not only do we need to be reminded of those truths ourselves, but we can be the one speaking those life-giving words to others.

    This is one of the things I love most about about coaching baseball and soccer. When a kid is crying on his way back to the dugout after striking out or our team is down with time (or innings) running out. I get to remind them that they are awesome! They’re tough! They’re winners! And it’s amazing how often they bounce back when they believe that. Plus I get to work in other manly encouraging tactics like fist bumps, wrestling, and spitting. 😉

    Reply
    • Dan King

      You rock Paul! And #fistbump…

      Reply
  7. Sheila Seiler Lagrand

    A beautiful gift you gave, Dan.

    I’m sitting here thinking of a recent time when I spewed out words that tear down. Shock waves are still reverberating nearly two weeks later and i don’t know how to fix it–so I turn it over, every day, to the One who can fix everything.

    Oh, and Dan? Even though I’m a woman, I’d love to talk about fixing stuff with you. Or boats.

    Reply
    • Dan King

      Dang, the power of our words… I believe it…

      And boats! I’d LOVE to talk about boats! Especially if we were ON one!

      Reply
      • Sheila Seiler Lagrand

        Well, if you get to California before we find a buyer for ours, we’ll get you out there with the dolphins and blue whales.

        Reply
        • Dan King

          Sounds like I need to find a reason…

          Reply
  8. Eileen

    Just a beautiful post….had to come back and read it again. Thanks

    Reply
    • Dan King

      Wow… thank Eileen!

      Reply
  9. Leslie Rowe

    Dan, great post. seriously. You’re the dude.

    I want to speak life to you RIGHT NOW.

    I want to minister to your deepest places.

    Ready?

    WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THE NFL DRAFT AND NO MANTI TE’O YET???

    Reply
    • Leslie Rowe

      (sorry couldn’t resist haha)

      Reply
    • Dan King

      THANK YOU!!! I only wonder what Manti Te’o’s girlfriend thinks about all that…

      Reply
      • Leslie Rowe

        She’s a behind-the-scenes kind of girl…

        Reply
  10. SimplyDarlene

    Looks like the blessings were mutual, huh?

    Reply
  11. Nancy Franson

    You know, that friend of yours who dreamed up this retreat asked several of us to pray over some very mundane things–like roommate assignments. Sounds like God went above and beyond our requests and also orchestrated some divine travel appointments. Thank you for showing compassion; thank you for speaking life.

    Now, thoughts on the Steelers first round pick?

    Reply
    • Dan King

      Thank you for your prayers, and yes… it seems that God was even concerned about seat assignments.

      And as for the Steelers… you can’t go wrong with a big time Linebacker from the SEC!

      Reply
    • Sheila Seiler Lagrand

      He’s such a busybody (in the best possible way!), that God of ours. . .

      Reply
  12. Lisa-Jo Baker

    Dang, just dang. And thank you. #BFFsForever 🙂

    Reply
    • Dan King

      Awww, Lisa-Jo! #fistbumpformybestie

      Reply
  13. Caryn Jenkins Christensen

    SO glad you chose to “hang in there” with us Dan! HUGE fist-pump comin’ your way!

    Reply
    • Dan King

      Thanks Caryn! I really had a blast!

      Reply
  14. Sam Van Eman

    Really cool reflection, Dan. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Dan King

      Thanks Sam… I really wish you could have been there with us for the retreat! We needed some more dudes!

      Reply
  15. Denise J. Hughes

    Thank you for all the ways you served last weekend. It was nice to meet you. I was going through football withdrawals all weekend too. Every night, at home or otherwise, I read nfl.com and packers.com on my phone. I’ve been tracking this draft since the Combine. Green Bay needs a running back and an improved offensive line (50+ sacks last year on Rogers!). But I can’t say I was too surprised they went with a DE in the first round. He’s taller and leaner than most guys in that spot, and they need someone who can catch those young read-option quarterbacks. (I’m still recovering from the playoff divisional round against San Francisco.) And the Vikings have sure given the Packers some room for pause in the NFC North with three elite acquisitions in the first round alone. I can’t wait to see what happens today.

    Who’s your team?

    Reply
    • Dan King

      DENISE! You should have spent some time talking football with me! My team is the Bucs… as you probably know, we just traded our first round pick for Darrell Revis from the Jets… with some other offseason moves, Revis is now calling the Bucs secondary the “no fly zone”!

      Reply
  16. Dave Vander Laan

    Dan, thank you for helping me think about how to gossip the Gospel in such a way that the goodness of being seized by the power of a Great Affection becomes lived out through speaking the words, “Do you have any idea how much God delights in you?”

    Reply
  17. Alene Snodgrass

    Be still my heart — this is awesome. This past weekend I was able to take 8 girls from the inner city away to pour into them. They are ready to step up and lead, but yet they find that unimaginable — that they could ever be leaders. We had great topics and since we were at a ranch I used the theme of a bird woven in to the weekend using bird quotes.

    The third quote I had for them was “Even a caged bird sings!” They were blown away. They never realized that they had so much to offer although they felt so trapped. They didn’t realize that they had a song to sing and one that others would even want to hear.

    God did amazing things that weekend as I spoke life into them. I can’t wait to see these little birds fly!!! You bless me – thanks.

    Reply
    • Dan King

      That’s awesome Alene! You rock!

      Reply
  18. Diana Trautwein

    Bless you, Dan King. You, too, have the heart of God. Thank you for showing it to your seat mate and to all of us all weekend long. You are a gem.

    Reply
    • Dan King

      Bless you too, Diana! You are a gift to us too!

      Reply
  19. Emily Wierenga

    I love how obedient you were in this moment, Dan. That woman’s life will never be the same because of it.

    Reply
    • Dan King

      Thanks Emily! I really strive for that obedience… I’ll admit, it’s not always easy, but definitely always worth it.

      Reply
  20. Michelle DeRusha

    I am thanking God right this second for you, Dan. What a serving heart you have. YOU inspire me. You are an awesome dude working for the awesomest Dude.

    Reply
    • Dan King

      Aww shucks, Michelle! Thanks for the encouragement! You’re pretty awesome too, and I’m glad we’re both working for the same “awesomest Dude!”

      Reply
  21. Doug Spurling

    Words are so powerful. Good words. Someday, you’ll hear, “we’ll done.” But more, because of your words…others will too.

    Reply
    • Dan King

      Wow…. thanks for the encouragement Doug! That’s a pretty powerful thought…

      Reply
  22. Heather Windeler

    A big ol’ AMEN! Thanks for sharing Dan. I am glad that you were open to God using you even though you were tired. These truths need to be shared. 🙂 God Bless you lots!

    Reply
    • Dan King

      Thanks Heather! I love being used by God to be a small part of healing and restoration that He does in people. It’s a pretty cool place to be!

      Reply
  23. Sheri Bennett

    Dan, I have a hunch that you spend much of your time speaking life into people. (I started reading your book today.) It takes a BRAVE man to be willing to be used by God for a whole weekend in a room FULL of estrogen…And maybe even more to be willing to be God’s ear to one hurting wounded woman on a plane. Your obedience to God is inspiring.

    Reply
    • Dan King

      Wow… thanks Sheri! I hope you enjoy the book!

      Reply
  24. Kris Camealy

    So glad I found my way back to this post. It’s been a long week here so I’m just now catching a minute to read. And from what I know of you, this doesn’t surprise me at all. Dan you are a blessing to ALL who are blessed to cross paths with you. I continue to thank God for the opportunity to work alongside you a little through this community you’ve built. You serve faithfully, always willing to go into unknown territory to serve whether that be Haiti or a conference crowded with women. Love your heart for Gods people, Dan.

    Reply
    • Dan King

      Thank you Kris… especially for being a part of this little community of writers. We are blessed to have you here. #fistbump

      Reply
  25. Lynn Morrissey

    Dan, I appreciated Shelly introducing us at lunchtime at the retreat. Amittedly, I’m new to this world of Christians whom I’ve only discovered recently—this vast virtual world of Jesus lovers is a new reality to me. Your action was so powerful, affirming a woman whom others denigrated. You took time for the least of these. Sadly, it’s not my usual reaction. But yesterday, only by the grace of God, I let go of my selfish default mode to listen–really listen to a single-divorced mother who lost her job and who has no idea how she will support her child. I listened and prayed with her and when we parted, I contacted someone who just may be able to help her find a job. It was God acting through me as He did you on that air plane. When we put HIm first, we find Him acting on others’ behalf, in spite of ourselves. So glad to have met you. And you’ve also given me a new definition of “fist,” btw! You are one feisty fist bumper!

    Reply
    • Dan King

      It was great meeting you too! And I love to hear that God used you to minister and speak life into the life of that single-divorced mother who lost her job! I pray that the encounter encourages her for a long time to come!

      #fistbump

      Reply
  26. Lelia Chealey

    This is so Jesus!! Love this! And next time I’m at a conference making conversation with the few men, I’ll text my hub and ask for some GuyTalk. I could’ve really impressed you with my NFL knowledge..haha.
    Thanks for this post though. Love it!

    Reply
    • Dan King

      Yeah… then I would have started asking you about your fantasy football team, and you would have told me something about how great Michael Jordan was for you last season, and I would have seen right through it all!

      Thanks for stopping by, and for the great encouragement on this post! #fistbump

      Reply
  27. Barb Nichols

    Love this! Had to write down your quote: “compassion means to ‘suffer with’ not ‘feel sorry for'” Thanks Dude!

    Reply
    • Dan King

      Thanks! That’s good, huh? It’s a pretty powerful concept that applies not only to conversations like this one, but also to how I approach ministry and missions.

      Reply
  28. Nasreen Fynewever

    3 weeks since #jtreat and my heart is now ready to read everyone’s link ups. #fistbump, you quoted my theme song for this year while calling compassion and depth out of me by your example and grace. For all my needs and apologies over the three days, you remained present and giving. Grill on, bibledude, grill on!

    Reply
    • Dan King

      Ha! Nasreen, you rock. I’m VERY pleased to have gotten to know you, and I think you are amazing. Thank you for everything you did to make that retreat happen!

      Reply
  29. Sandra Heska King

    I just came back to read again. I thought I’d commented before. I guess I was too stunned. Cuz you seriously rock. (And if you’d wanted to talk about deep stuff like the MLB, I would have been all ears.)

    Reply
    • Dan King

      Ha! It would have been awesome to talk sports with you Sandy! You rock!

      Reply

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speak life

by Dan King time to read: 4 min
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