Excerpted from Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day, by Joel Osteen (October 2007). Used by permission of Free Press.

When I was in middle school, I was one of the smaller players on the basketball team. In our first game of the season, we were scheduled to face a real good team, boasting a bunch of big guys. Naturally, at my size, it would have been easy to be intimidated by our opponents.

On game day, I was walking through the school hallways in between classes, when my basketball coach called me over to where he was standing in front of several of my friends. He was a big, strong, tough coach, and in his usual gruff manner, he said, “Joel, you’re not that tall, but let me tell you, size doesn’t matter. What counts is right down in here.” He pointed his finger at his chest as he continued. “Joel, you’ve got a big heart, and you’re going to do great this year.”

When I heard the coach’s words—spoken right in front of my friends—I stood up taller, threw my shoulders back, and smiled even more than usual! You would have thought I was Michael Jordan. I thought to myself, The coach believes in me! My confidence shot up to a completely new level, and I played better that year than I’d ever done before. It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we know somebody really believes in us. That coach took a little time to make a big difference. He took time to instill confidence in me. If we’re going to bring out the best in people, we too need to sow seeds of encouragement.

“Well, Joel, nobody’s encouraging me,” someone might say. “Why should I encourage anyone else?”

If you want your life to increase, if you want your life to get better, then you need to help improve somebody else’s life. If you will help somebody else become successful, God will make sure that you are successful.

God puts people in our lives on purpose so we can help them succeed and help them become all He created them to be. Most people will not reach their full potential without somebody else believing in them. That means you and I have an assignment. Everywhere we go we should be encouraging people, building them up, challenging them to reach for new heights. When people are around us, they should leave better off than they were previously. Rather than feeling discouraged or defeated, people should feel challenged and inspired after spending any time with you and me.

The Bible says that love is kind. One translation says, “Love looks for a way of being constructive.” In other words, love looks for ways to help improve somebody else’s life.

You have something to offer that nobody else can give.

Take time to make a difference. Don’t just obsess about how you can make your own life better. Think about how you can make somebody else’s life better as well. Our attitude should be: Who can I encourage today? Who can I build up? How can I improve somebody else’s life?

You have something to offer that nobody else can give. Somebody needs your encouragement. Somebody needs to know that you believe in him, that you’re for him, that you think he has what it takes to succeed. If you look back over your own life, most likely you’ll find someone who played a pivotal role in helping you get to where you are today. Maybe your parents or a teacher had confidence in you and helped you believe in yourself. Perhaps it was a boss who placed you in a higher position even though you didn’t feel qualified at the time. Or a school counselor who said, “You’ve got what it takes. You can go to this college. You can be successful in that career.”

Maybe they saw something in you that you may not have seen in yourself, and they helped you get to that next level. Now, it’s your turn to do something similar for somebody else. Who are you believing in? Who are you cheering on? Who are you helping to become successful? Friend, there’s no greater investment in life than in being a people builder. Relationships are more important than our accomplishments. I believe that God is going to hold us responsible for the people He’s put in our lives. He’s counting on us to bring out the best in our spouse, in our children, and in our friends and our coworkers.
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