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April-May 2017

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BROWN ON GREEN: Shooting Liberty Valance

In 1962, two of the biggest stars in Hollywood, John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart, teamed up for the first time in a movie called The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. The plot is about a tinhorn lawyer (Ransom Stoddard, played by Jimmy Stewart) from back East who had come to the West to practice law in the town of Shinbone in an unnamed western state. Stoddard had no idea about how things worked in the West and quickly developed an enemy in Liberty Valance, an outlaw gunslinger.

The whole town admired Ransom Stoddard for his law and order ideals, especially Tom Doniphon (played by John Wayne). Ultimately, Stoddard faced and killed Liberty Valance in a shootout thanks to Tom Doniphon’s help (unknown by Ransom). Ransom Stoddard went on to have a successful career as a lawyer, because he was known as “the man who shot Liberty Valance.”

This classic movie reminds us we often get more credit for our accomplishments than we should because many people have invested in our lives. Friends, family, mentors, advisors, and encouragers spur us on to more than we thought possible. They all deserve credit for helping us become the men and women we are. They are “people investors.”

We need more people investors willing to invest in lives—to change people’s lives by helping them “shoot the Liberty Valances” of discouragement and lack of confidence, and to help remove obstacles in their lives that prevent them from being all they can be for the Kingdom. Sometimes, all it takes is an encouraging word. Proverbs 25 reminds us: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Many times, the right word of encouragement at the right time makes all the difference in someone’s life.

We should all strive to mentor our younger peers, sharing knowledge that has taken us decades to discover. Helping someone through a difficult situation you have already faced can be a priceless investment in his or her life. Schoolteachers, and even Sunday School teachers, can challenge students to expand their horizons and consider areas of service that suit their talents. Many times, unless we are challenged to explore these areas, we will never get on the path God has for us.

Let’s invest in people. We need more people willing to help shoot the “Liberty Valances” that prevent others from becoming the servants that God desires.

About the Writer: David Brown, CPA, became director of the Free Will Baptist Foundation in 2007. Send your questions to David at To learn how the Foundation can help you become a more effective giver, call 877-336-7575.



©2017 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists