You would think that after nearly two days of shared car travel, my passenger would have been able to ascertain my high level of competency behind the wheel, my excellent driving abilities and my all round exceptional transport provision skills. But alas, our NNSW company finance manager clearly had other views!

On a sunny afternoon mid week, we arrived in Alstonville just as the locals were closing up at the end of the work day. Our motel was a neat and tidy traveller location just on the outskirts of town: appealing, inviting and well cared for. Check in took just mere moments and after some banter with the owners over my efforts to do the booking online, we both jumped back into the car to drive… from reception to the motel units. Units that are located at the most, 30 metres away.

As I started the car, to my surprise, my passenger securely fastened her seat belt in anticipation of clearly impending doom, as we traversed 30m of crushed gravel at approximately 5 km/h. The ensuing conversation between a clearly offended driver, and a clearly safety first occupant, was both hilarious and dare I say instructive. (For the driver)

Apostle Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians celebrates a flourishing church. Despite persecution and suffering, the community of Jesus followers have stood strong in their commitment to Jesus. Paul encourages them further, pointing toward the return of King Jesus, who will set everything right. A message best captured as ‘Hope amongst Hardship’.

1 Thessalonians in particular brings about a new way of conceptualising the church as believers gather to hear it read aloud and to experience differently the apostolic presence. The primary aim of 1 Thessalonians is to encourage Jesus’ believers to continue to progress in their faith. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 directs us to ‘encourage one another and to build each other up.

What stands out in this passage is the clear sub text of ‘no limits’. There is no clarifying, no limiting when you should do this, no constraints on frequency, repetition or focus of our attentions. Just consistent application. Always.

Like putting your seat belt on when a car is moving. That IS what you should do. That is not just ‘law’ but it is common sense, it is wise, it is sensible, it IS the right thing to do. Always.

As ‘ambassadors for heaven’ we should be encouraging others, we should be building others up and it should be as natural as putting on our seat belt as we hop in our car. It is just the right thing. Always.

So this weekend and beyond, as you get in and out of your cars, let putting on a seat belt remind you of building up and affirming those around us. Be intentional and take the opportunity to consciously choose to affirm, thank, acknowledge and build up someone: perhaps a student, perhaps a peer, perhaps a retail employee, perhaps a family member, perhaps …? Always.

Oh, and by the way, we did make it across 30m of crushed gravel safely.


This word of encouragement for Christian educators was written by Dean Bennetts, and distributed in The Bridge newsletter in 2023. Dean is the CEO of Adventist Education in North New South Wales, Australia.