Earning the Right to Speak into a Life


Never say “never,” my friends.

In the past four months or so, I’ve tried something that I had always sworn that I would never try. I hate needles, and so in the past, whenever the topic of acupuncture would come up, I would shudder and say, “No way!”

Famous last words…

Last fall, one of my dearest friends, whom I trust implicitly, told me he had just found the wisest, most compassionate and conscientious health care provider. And he was seeing change – for the better – in all aspects of his life. And he earnestly told me how he just knew that this was what I needed, and that it would do me a world of good. This practitioner is an acupuncturist and Chinese medicine man. I trust my friend. I know that he would never lead me in a harmful direction. But the idea of trying something so unknown to me scared me. I shook my head and walked away.

In January, I had what I’ve come to refer to as, “a series of healing crises.” I started getting sores in my mouth, then I got a sinus infection and viral bronchitis. I went on an antibiotic for the sinus infection that caused me to develop thrush in my mouth. And then, I developed folliculitis all over my body. I was coming to the end of my rope.

My very trusted friend said, “Are you ready to go see him yet?”

This time, I didn’t hesitate. I said, “Give me his number!”

My very first visit, I was so nervous that I felt like I was going to throw up. But because I trusted my friend, I extended that trust to this caretaker that he had sent me to. I gave him a chance. And I haven’t regretted it.

As for my Chinese medicine man – Eric – over the weeks and months, he has earned my trust all on his own. I have found him to be exactly the compassionate, conscientious, wise, caring person that my friend had told me he would be. And my trust of Eric has been earned one day, one interaction, one email, one appointment, one needle at a time.

Now, before you start thinking that today’s post is just a manifesto on Chinese medicine or acupuncture, let me make my point –

You have to earn the right to speak into someone’s life.

My friend had to earn the right to give me advice. Eric had to earn the right to continue to provide me with care. And every day of each of our lives, we come into contact with people whom we could potentially help. But we have to earn the right to speak into their lives.

Not everybody earns the right to speak into your life. Not everybody can be in your circle of trust. Some of them prove themselves untrustworthy. But if someone can’t have your trust, you can’t have a relationship with them.

Andy Stanley says, “A relationship begins and ends with trust. Furthermore, the level of trust indicates the strength of the relationship. No matter how much one person wants to connect with another, there can be no relationship without trust.” (Stanley, Andy. The Grace of God. Thomas Nelson.)

Today, a friend of mine told a story about when she was a child. She was invited to church with a friend and she went. But during the service, some adults came and took my friend away from the little girl she knew, took her into a separate room, and tried to force her to believe in their brand of God. She didn’t know any of these people. She was terrified of them. They had earned no right to speak into her life. And now, this many years later, she still remembers it as a terrifying, scarring experience from her childhood.

Last week, I was talking to a young man who is in ministry, and he was asking about how to speak into the lives of unbelievers that he encounters. And my advice was very simple: Love them. Spend time with them. Get to know them. Build a relationship – loving them unconditionally, just as they are, even if they never believe. But be aware – they may just change your life, too – and that change might just be for the better. (But that’s another blog post.)

This post is part of a weekly book discussion that my buddy, Jason Stasyszen, and I are co-facilitating about Andy Stanley’s book, “The Grace of God.” You don’t have to read the book to stick around and chat with us! If you have written a response to this week’s chapter, please link up at the widget below. And drop by Jason’s to see what he has to say! 


About Sarah Salter


  1. Amy Watts says:

    Yes. Spot on, Sarah.


  2. Sarah Salter says:

    Thanks, Amy! 🙂

  3. It really is hard to love and give with no strings attached. Even after you get past trying to get something “big” from people, you think it’s okay to expect something “little.” But God never does. He loves and gives and blesses regardless. Of course, He wants to do all those things directly instead of indirectly, but He’s so patient with all of us. Incredible grace! Thanks Sarah.

  4. Sarah Salter says:

    Jason, this reminds me of one of my other favorite parts of this chapter. I love how Andy used the analogy of his dog, and how even when the dog is disobedient, it doesn’t stop being his dog. I NEED that reminder that God’s love of me isn’t based on what I DO. When I step out of line, I don’t stop being His. And so I also shouldn’t base my love of others on what they do.

  5. SarahBee says:

    Your advice couldn’t be better. “Love them”. What a great reminder.

  6. Sarah Salter says:

    Thanks, Mama Bee! 🙂

  7. To properly correct and guide someone, to speak into their lives, we must first be known and recognized by them. We must have a relationship with them.

    God entered into our lives by establishing a means to relate to Him while we were still far from Him.

    (A little late to the party, but I made it!)

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