I was on a recent Southwest Airlines flight from California to Nashville when the flight attendant called our attention to a group of soldiers who were on the flight. The attendant became emotional as she thanked the soldiers for their service and sacrifice so that she could be free. The entire plane erupted in applause and cheers for the small group of servicemen and women. It was a great moment! Everyone likes to be told thank-you.
Over the years, members of the two churches I served, plus men and women I lead at LifeWay have given me thank-you cards. I have several folders full of hundreds and hundreds of cards given to me and my wife over the past 20 years of ministry. I am so glad that I’ve held on to them, because any time I need a pick-me-up, I take a few out and read them. The cards in the photo are just a handful of the ones that I’ve treasured. I enjoy being told thank-you for a job well done…don’t you?
I once read a great quote (I wish I could remember exactly where I read it) that went like this: “Praise is like oxygen to a worker’s soul.” I love that thought and the word picture it gives me. But I wonder how many of your teachers/leaders are living in an oxygen deprived environment? Are you saying thank-you often enough? If not, maybe your teachers are hoping you’ll turn on the flow of praise and bring new life to their souls!
When I was on church staff, I looked for volunteers doing things right each Sunday, and I frequently sent out thank-you cards to them on Mondays. To my amazement, they often sought me out the next Sunday to say thanks for noticing their ministry! They loved being noticed, and they loved being thanked for jobs well done. A little praise goes a long way. It’s a lesson I learned early in my ministry. Leaders shouldn’t have to live in an oxygen deprived environment.
Here are a few ways you can start saying thank-you to your volunteer leaders. How many other ways can you think of?
1. Thank-you cards. Make a commitment to send out two or three a week…catch people doing good things and thank them for it.
2. Public praise. Call attention to a volunteer’s good work in a public way…at a leader training event, from the pulpit, or in front of the people they teach/lead.
3. Gifts. Books, pens, a coffee mug, an iTunes gift card, tickets to an event, or something else that brings added value to the volunteer…the sky is the limit…just use your imagination.
4. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You’ve got to eat anyway, right? Why not take a volunteer out to eat and spend time with them?
Each week after my teacher (and Minister of Education) Marty Blakely finishes teaching our class’s Sunday School lesson, I try to always say “Thanks, Marty.” He goes above and beyond his regular responsibilities to prepare a great lesson and lead our class to study the Scripture. He deserves a hearty thank-you from all of us each week. How about the teachers who teach your children? When is the last time you’ve said thanks when you pick them up from Sunday School?! Remember, praise is like oxygen to a worker’s soul. Don’t let your teachers live in that kind of environment…take steps this week to say thank-you.