She came up to me with a tear in her eye just after the close of the meeting. It wasn’t a worship service or a Bible study, but a lay ministry appreciation event at the church I was serving. To close the year, I had given each volunteer a certificate bearing his or her name and the words, “Thanks for your faithful service. You are loved and appreciated!”
It was just a piece of paper, but it had tremendous value to this middle-aged woman and longtime volunteer. “This is precious to me,” she said. “It means so much that someone noticed.”
Never doubt the power of showing appreciation in the lives of your lay ministers—and paid staff members. Your words of affirmation have tremendous power to buoy the spirit, and they may be the only earthly reward your ministry team members receive.
Appreciation is simple to give and brings lasting rewards. Here are four tips for showing gratitude to those around you.
Don’t wait for a formal opportunity to say thank you. The minute you notice a volunteer or staff member doing something right, tell them about it. “I’m so glad you thought of that idea.” “Thank you for being here early.” “I really appreciate what you’re doing for our teenagers.” Instant affirmation is the best.
Affirmation—as its counterpart, criticism—can go viral if you give it a chance. Thank one volunteer in front of another, and you’ll encourage two for the price of one. Praise a staff member in front of a group, and you will create a culture of positive feedback.
Praise in Writing
Even in the electronic age, people value a handwritten note of thanks. In fact, they may value it more highly because of the time and effort it requires. Keep a box of thank-you notes nearby and send them out regularly.
The only word of caution regarding affirmation is that it must be heartfelt. People can spot false praise a mile away, and it only discredits the giver. Genuinely notice, respect and appreciate the people who serve with you. Then tell them. You’ll both be better for it.