This classic film resonates on so many levels, but I believe one of the deepest is the need to know you’ve made a difference and the power of those IN your life to encourage you back from the cliff. Above all the noise in the world, people just want to know their life matters. And we hold the power to help others see just how much.

3 Lessons from ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ + a Quiz!

Why do you think this classic film resonates with so many? Here is my answer plus 3 lessons from “It’s a Wonderful Life” and a fun quiz. Discover which type of ENCOURAGER you are.

It’s a Wonderful Life turned 70 recently. Do you remember how it opens?

The first few seconds are full of voices of loved ones praying for George Bailey.

“Help my friend, Mr. Bailey.”
“Help my son George tonight.”
“I love him, dear Lord. Watch over him tonight.”
“Please, God. Something’s the matter with Daddy.”

Up in heaven, God hears the prayers and is fully aware of George Bailey’s crisis of belief. When the angel Clarence is brought in on assignment, he asks if George is sick.

The voice of God answers with the following line that gets me every time. In response to “Is he sick?” the voice answers: “No. Worse. He’s discouraged.

Does my life count?

George is discouraged because he believes his life has not counted. “You’re worth more dead than you are alive,” someone tells him. Throughout the film, we see how one dream after another is redirected.

The rest of the story is history as they say.

As we watch the life of George Bailey play out on screen, we laugh and empathize and feel his frustration. But I’m betting the tears flow most freely when the ending scene parades person after person squeezing into the old house to make their contribution and join in the ending chorus.

Maybe this film resonates so deeply because it’s most often viewed when the year is coming to a close. This month beckons us to reflect back on the year (or years) and ask, “Does my life count? Have I made a difference? Does anyone notice?”

3 Lessons from It’s a Wonderful Life

Art imitates life on so many levels in this classic. Here are three that resonate most deeply with me.

1-Speak up. Show up. Add what you have.

Clarence rescues George and saves his life, but the townspeople and Mary take it from there. They are the boots on the ground who finish what the wings in the air started.

Mary gets the word out and individuals respond.

They show up with their contributions and they speak their appreciation. As they do, the camera cuts to George’s face and we see the power of both. In the end, their cumulative contributions are enough. Actually, they are more than enough.

Read: Some people are worth melting for

2-Perspective is 90% of the battle

George fixates on all that is deteriorating around him and stops seeing anything good in life. From there, hopelessness sets in. And then we watch him growl and groan at everything.

In contrast, once his perspective is restored at the end, even the loose banister ball makes him laugh.

Marketing professionals know that perception IS reality in the PR and advertising world. In real life, our perception has nothing to do with determining reality, but it can drastically affect how we deal with the reality we’ve been dealt.

The key is to fix our eyes on Jesus and the hope he promises. When we let God’s reality dictate our perception, our perspective will clear and 90 percent of the battle of the mind will be over.

Read: How to pray when you’re feeling discouraged

3-Discouragement is debilitating

I mentioned that opening line gets me every time. “Something worse than sickness.


Discouragement creeps in and holds the heart for ransom. It projects a sense of being outnumbered, overwhelmed, and undervalued.

It’s a real struggle. Some even get to the point where they act on the thought that the world is better off without them. But even if we don’t act on it, that lie has knocked on the door of more minds than anyone admits.

Read: For when you’re weary of trying

Which encourager are you?

I believe this is the core theme of It’s a Wonderful Life:

Above all the
noise in the world,
people just want to know
their life matters.

Maybe that’s why it’s a classic.

The corollary is this: we hold the power to let others know how much they matter and encourage them back from the cliff.

In the movie, we see three types of encouragers who help George understand his value and contribution to the world. I developed a fun quiz that might give you insight into which one you are most like.

Take the quiz and then share your results.

Also, if you haven’t started preparing your heart for Advent, there’s information on our resources below the quiz.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Above all the noise in the world, people just want to know their life matters.” quote=”Above all the noise in the world, people just want to know their life matters.”]

Take the Quiz!

(If the quiz doesn’t show up on your device, click here to see it on the Playbuzz website.)

All images are sourced from: National Telefilm Associates [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

My book “Behold” includes 13 Scripture-based devotions centered on a one-word theme and inspired by favorite lines from treasured Christmas hymns.
The book is available on Amazon.
There’s also a YouTube playlist of related hymns and a 24-day plan that adds Scripture readings, sermons, and outreach activities to the book’s devotions.

Links to all of this are in one place:

Chapter titles in the book BEHOLD

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Making Life & Words Count!



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