I recently heard Louise Phelan being interviewed on the radio. She’s the vice-president of PayPal’s operations for Europe, the Middle-East, and Africa. This year she was awarded the title of Ireland’s Most Trusted Leader at the Best Workplaces in Ireland awards ceremony.
In the interview, she spoke about the support she received from her family—she’s the second youngest of seventeen(!) siblings: nine girls and eight boys. ‘They were all very supportive. I’ve had great supporters in my career, and I think that the support you get from them is critical.’ But her next sentence struck me: ‘You have to have advocates. That’s what I tell students. Have you got an advocate? … [Someone] that believes in you and can support you. I think that’s really important.’ he’s bang on the money. How many children grow up being told they are useless by parents, siblings, ‘friends’, or even teachers? Or even just ignored, left to their own devices without the stimulation of encouragement to stretch themselves? And then we wonder why people have low self-esteem, and we have to spend a fortune counselling them or weaning them off whatever substance it is they have turned to for self-belief.
Something within us is wired for input from others—we are not independent rulers of our own little worlds as we’d like to think. And when we are low we realise this: We need someone to stand with us, to speak for us. Do you have an advocate? Someone who speaks up for you, who speaks to encourage you, to spur you on? Could you be more of an advocate for others around you? Wouldn’t it be great to have someone to stand up for us—the more powerful and influential the better?
But what of those times when even the best of encouragers fail us, when their words ring hollow because we know that they simply aren’t true? When we have made a mess of our lives or when the guilt of the past weighs down on us, and no well-intentioned words can sweep it away…what then? What if you are reading this and you have no one to be your advocate—no one
to fight your cause?
There is One who will be our advocate in even the worst of circumstances, One who will look into whatever mess we have made, however guilty we are, and say to us, ‘I will take on your case. I will speak up for you’. The apostle John writes about Him in 1 John 2:1: ‘My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.’ That’s the sort of advocate I want—One who knows my faults and is prepared to speak up for me before the Judge of all the Earth. And do you see how welcoming He is? The offer of His advocacy is open to ‘anyone who does sin’. He not only will speak for us to His Father, but speak to us from His Father, assuring us of forgiveness, acceptance, and welcome. This is the advocate everyone needs. Who will speak for you?
‘There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother’ -Proverbs 18 v24