“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.” Galatians 5:6
Have you seen Jacob Thackston? Is that name recognizable?
Google will not readily yield an accurate association.
The trappings of fame are not its acclaim.
Familiarity does not come from notoriety.
The name, Jacob Thackston, has a particular importance to me. It is a name that has come to transcend even the owner in my mind. I associate this name more with a characteristic than a particular personage. It represents a potential that resides in each and every one of us.
We are all potential Jacob Thackstons.
Four years ago, Jacob Thackston was one of the top Lincoln Douglas debaters in Region II of the National Christian Forensic and Communication Association (NCFCA). He won several tournaments and qualified for the NCFCA National Championship. However, I don’t remember Jacob Thackston for these reasons.
I don’t remember any of his speeches;
I don’t remember any of his cases;
I don’t even remember what he looks like.
In fact, Jacob Thackston had thoroughly faded from my memory when an event just five weeks ago brought his name flooding back to my remembrance.
It was my family’s first year of involvement in NCFCA that I became familiar with the name Jacob Thackston. My son was 14 years old and we were at our second tournament. We were still figuring out this whole crazy, one-clap, NCFCA experience. My son was struggling with some learning challenges. He was doing cognitive therapy and we were simply thrilled that he was doing one speech, an Illustrated Oratory speech.
The first time I heard the name Jacob Thackston was as we were leaving the tournament and a young man walked out of the building and yelled:
“Hey Kyle, I want to see you doing LD next year.”
My wife and I, were “who was that”? And my son said, “That’s Jacob Thackston”.
It was a long ride home and that name came up repeatedly.
Jacob Thackston was a senior and he had won the Lincoln-Douglas final debate at that particular tournament and my son was a fan. My son had followed Jacob Thackston around the whole tournament and timed all of his rounds. Yet, I discovered that Jacob Thackston had done a remarkable thing as a senior to this novice speaker, my son.
He showed kindness to my son. He encouraged my son.
What I heard from my son the entire ride home was:
“Jacob Thackston thinks I should do LD”;
“Jacob Thackston said that he would help me”;
“Jacob Thackston thinks I can do it”.
I must confess that I did not agree with Jacob Thackston. I thought this whole LD idea was a bad idea. My son had learning challenges; he was going to get slaughtered…but we tried to be good parents, sucked it up and said, “Oh I think that will be wonderful.”
That made what I saw five weeks ago so incredible in my eyes. Five weeks ago at the NCFCA Spokane Open, my son walked across the stage the winner of a NCFCA national open in Lincoln Douglas debate. I was astounded. Honestly, it was a sight that I never thought I would see while driving across the State of Washington and hearing my son first tell me about Jacob Thackston.As my son received his trophy, I was as proud as a Dad can be and I was grateful to a lot of people. Like most NCFCA competitors, my son has received a lot of help and encouragement along the way. Yet, Jacob Thackston specifically came to my mind because it had all started with him.
It had all started with his kindness.
Consider what his words could have done.
He could have been harsh or condescending;
He could have been indifferent or aloof;
He could have said nothing;
He could have discouraged my son…
to the point that our second tournament was our last.
Now, you may not think that showing simple kindness is a big deal but I will vehemently disagree with you. It may have been a simple thing but just because it was simple does not negate its tremendous impact.
Jacob Thackston’s simple kindness changed our lives.
- Kindness changed my son’s life. His life is different because of his involvement in NCFCA; profoundly, positively different. Kindness tilled the opportunity of participation to be planted in his life.
- Kindness changed my life. I am on the board of directors for NCFCA. The simple kindness of a teenager started a whole series of events that have brought me to participate in a way that I had never aspired.
That is the profoundly powerful impact of kind words.
The kindness of Jacob Thackston was more than a good guy being friendly. The spirit of God can be recognized in his action. I believe that his actions were the result of the faith of a child of God working through love – specifically love in the form of kindness.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. (Galatians 5:6)
What do you think counts from the second tournament that my family attended? Do you think the trophy Jacob Thackston took home all those years ago counts for more than the change his kindness made in my family’s life?
The kindness of Jacob Thackston is an example of how to combine what we do with how we do it, for the glory of God. Jacob Thackston competed with intensity; he pursued excellence; he was focused; he was prepared; he was ready to address life issues from a biblical worldview. He was successful.
However, what he did at that tournament in Washington did not eclipse how he did. The kindness shown to my son demonstrated a faith working through love and that made all of his actions count. It was his faith working through kindness toward a novice teenager that has continued to bring glory to God.
Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.
~ Blaise Pascal
Therefore, my encouragement is to never underestimate the power of simple kindness. Speak what needs to be spoken. Do what needs to be done. Yet, always speak and do from a heart that loves God, a soul that hopes in God, a mind that is set on God and an attitude that loves your neighbor as much as yourself. May our words accomplish much and may our legacy be a legacy of kindness for the glory of God.
Have you seen Jacob Thackston?
Have you been Jacob Thackston?
May we all become Jacob Thackston!
PRAYER: Lord, I thank you for the how you have used and continue to use the kindness of Jacob Thackston. Father, help me to be like Jacob Thackston. Help me to live a life characterized by simple kindness. May the fruit of you Spirit flourish in my life in a love for you and for all those with how I interact for your glory. May we all become a people who glorify you through our kindness. I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen