Over the course of about 12 weeks last year, my good friend (also my boss at my old church in New York) and I studied and worked through a book together. The book was called “Leadership from the Inside Out,” and was written by Kevin Harney (a long-time pastor and teacher). This book was written for church leaders to examine their inner lives and to help them become spiritually healthy. There were many useful and beneficial ideas that both myself and my friend took from that study. One of the main things I adopted from this book was the old (and somewhat lost) art of writing letters. I’m not talking about writing on the computer or some other form of technology; I’m talking about doing it the old fashioned way…hand writing letters. Harney said that he took time each day to write three letters to people in his ministry. They didn’t have to be long and elaborate notes. He often wrote to encourage his leaders, church family, and friends. He would write to let them know he was thinking about and praying for them. And he wrote to show that they were important to him. I loved this idea and couldn’t wait to get started.
I started my position as the youth pastor of The Altoona Alliance Church on February 8, 2009 and started writing letters on February 10, 2009. Since then, I have written somewhere around 50 letters to leaders, students, friends, and church family! I enjoy doing it, and I have gotten a few responses from the recipients of those letters thanking me for taking the time to write to them. Everyone doesn’t respond, but I know that they are getting them and I hope that it brightens their day!
The reason I am writing about this though is not to brag about how many letters I have written or to get recognition for what I do. What I am writing about is how much of a blessing it is to hear from a parent who sees what I am doing, and writes to me to show her appreciation.
I received an email from a parent of two of my students about a week ago that really blessed me and made me realize that there is a reason for what I do. I’m going to paste that email here but I will leave the names out (for confidentiality purposes):
“Thanks for all you do. Our students (I changed this so it didn’t give it away) really enjoy youth group and you! We appreciate your communication and your Biblical teaching and your patience with them. It’s nice to see some kids who would never come before are now coming out. God bless!”
This little email reminded me of the importance of taking time out of my busy days to write to people and encourage them. It reminded me of what I learned in the book and about how much this simple thing (writing letters) can impact my ministry!
In closing, I just want to encourage you to try this sometime. Try sitting down and taking a few minutes each day (or once or twice a week) to write a letter of appreciation and encouragement to someone who is close to you, or to someone who you want to be close to you. Let them know you are thinking about, praying for, and that you appreciate all that they do. It will bless the recipient as well as the writer!