“Not Bad!” (Proverbs 25:11)


Jake had graduated from my high school the previous year. For three years, he was the dominant presence in our high school jazz stage band, providing the rhythmic foundation with his idiosyncratic bass playing. Towering over his peers, both in height and musical ability, I, like everyone else, was drawn to his charismatic presence. His musicality was far beyond the other high school musicians and he was determined to make music his career. He was home for the summer after his first year in college and stopped by the band room with his bass guitar, where I was engaged in an impromptu jam session.


“Hey, Jake. This is Paul. You gotta hear him play. He’s got some chops!”


I was mortified but knew there was no backing out.


“Let’s see what you got!”


Jake proceeded to play a syncopated riff, slapping and popping his bass, setting an infectious groove. I was inspired and began adding some licks of my own, playing off the lines he was creating. Time ceased to exist as we telegraphed our emotions through our instruments. After about half an hour, we took a break. I looked at Jake’s face, searching for reassurance.


“Not bad!”


I was in heaven!


After we parted, my friend told me that Jake thought I had potential and he would speak to the director of the stage band and put in a good word for me. This encounter occurred a few months before my junior year in high school. I had been playing guitar for several years but was very insecure about my abilities. Some of my friends had heard me play and encouraged me to try out for the high school jazz stage band. If it had not been for that random encounter with this bass player, I may not have tried out for the jazz stage band. Because of the encouragement of Jake, I auditioned for the jazz stage band and secured the position of the guitar player. Playing in the band opened many doors for me including playing professionally in a group in Hawaii and later in college. Most importantly, it gave me the confidence to continue playing jazz guitar. Although I ultimately did not choose a career in music, it remains an integral part of my life.


A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.

Proverbs 25:11 (ESV)


I have never seen or communicated with Jake since that session but hope that someday I will be able to express my gratitude to him for his kind words and encouragement. I am keenly aware how a word fitly spoken may make a huge difference in someone’s life. A classmate in college took the time to encourage me during my sophomore year.  God used this man to lead me to an everlasting relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He challenged me with these words, “If you are truly seeking to know God, then ask Him. I promise you He will reveal Himself to you.” God did and my life has never been the same.


I pray that all of us will take the time to encourage one another with a fitly spoken word. God honors these acts of kindness.


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.



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