When I was 29 years old, the HOPE board of directors—against all sound judgement—extended an invitation for my family to move to Lancaster, PA and for me to begin serving as the President of HOPE International.
Despite my youth and the glaring gaps in my skills and background, the board took a chance on me. When I received the offer letter, I remember thinking that if they were crazy enough to offer me the role, then I was crazy enough to accept. In those first few years, I grew a goatee thinking that it might help me to look older and more mature than I actually was. As you can see in the picture, this goal was wildly unsuccessful.
So many of us have a similar story about the people who looked past our gaps and deficiencies and said yes.
For Anne Beiler, that moment came when she received $6,000, her first capital investment, which helped to launch her internationally-acclaimed franchise: Auntie Anne’s Pretzels.
Airbnb founders—Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk—remember the first venture capitalist to jump on board with their crazy bed-and-breakfast dream. Investor Paul Graham caught the vision, even after seven prominent Silicon Valley investors turned it down.
We remember the people who invested in us: the coaches who trained us, the teachers who mentored us, the managers who guided us, the friends who believed in us. We remember the people who saw something that we might not have fully seen in ourselves, and breathed life into our potential.
Thinking about the people who have invested in me fuels my desire to be that kind of investor in others. Millions of people around the world are waiting for someone to look past the obstacles, backgrounds, and gaps and take a risk on their ideas and dreams. In places of material poverty, there is an abundance of untapped potential simply because people have not yet invested in these women and men.
It is one of the great joys of my life to be part of an organization that is working diligently to reverse that trend. At HOPE International, we invest in people living on the margins of society who are so often unfairly overlooked. What a privilege to lock arms with entrepreneurs around the world who are just waiting for their shot—and say yes.
As the people of God, we believe in a God who did infinitely more than simply “take a chance” on us. As we work to love God and love our global neighbors, let’s be people who seek out the God-given capacity and promise in every person, and enthusiastically invest our time, talent, and resources in the people around us.
As you examine your own life, who has taken a chance on you? And how are you going to invest in the potential of others this year?