Ok so this is really a Tuesday morning Ministry Tip, but I got bogged down in meetings yesterday.
Today I want to give some tips on encouragement. Doing ministry is really hard and as leaders we need to be aware of the fact that both we and the people who work alongside us get tired and worn out. A key role in the life of any leader is to encourage himself/herself and to encourage those around them. So I am going to drop a few ideas out there on how to encourage yourself and how to encourage others. Hopefully this will be helpful.
Encouragement is vital to any ministry. This is because every ministry thrives on happy volunteers that are able to unlock and use their spiritual gifts and natural talents. Serving God is exciting stuff and we need to continue to foster a passion for that service through our encouragement. Here are 3 ways to encourage others.
1. Write notes. Yes I know it is tedious but it is the most effective way by far to encourage others. Writing a personal, hand written note on paper is volunteer gold. I prefer to keep it short, personal, up beat and encouraging. Its great to share an inside joke, remark about something specific that they did that was above and beyond ordinary, and then tell them how you have seen God use them and how they are growing. I cant tell you how encouraging a not can be to someone who is struggling.
2. Throw a party. I think that having an annual party is a wonderful way to say to your volunteers that you value them. I like to do this at Christmas. Having a dinner and a time of sharing is a great way to cast vision and make your volunteers feel like they are serving with a family of friends not alone on an island.
3. Individual verbal pep talk. I think one of the most valuable ways to encourage people is to praise them in front of their peers or to point out something they are doing well. For many people words of affirmation are a huge need and I have found that people dont get enough positive encouragement and crave it. Just telling people that they are awesome and you are thankful for them goes a long way. I try to tell everyone that is serving on Sundays how much I value their service to God.
Sometimes it is tough to keep serving God without having a perspective of what He has done through you. I often see many of my fellow co-laborers struggle with being positive. Here are a couple of ways I manage to keep motivated and encouraged.
Look back on how far you have come. One of the things that breeds frustration more than anything else is to feel like you are wasting your time. When I look back at how far God has led me and how I have grown over the last year, or several years, that is a source of encouragement. Knowing that God is developing me to be more like himself and that I am in the process of becoming keeps me from feeling like my life is stagnant. Often the best growth is the slowest and by looking backward we can see how much God has been developing us. Keeping a journal is a fantastic tool to be encouraged by what God has done in and through you.
Celebrate Lifechange. Nothing motivates me more than to see people that I have been praying for and serving grow in their faith. I try to keep my eyes on the people I am loving and notice that God is using me to make a difference.
Look at some stories of Bible characters who encountered adversity. Many times it is hard to remain upbeat when you don’t know how things will turn out. I have found that God has encouraged me to continue to have faith by looking at the lives of Joseph, Abraham, David, and Job.
Talk to an encouraging friend. Sometimes the best medicine is to pick up the phone and talk to someone who believes in you and loves you. God puts people in our lives who can lift our spirits and speak words of wisdom and advice to us when we really need it.
I hope these ideas are helpful to you. I know that encouragement is a discipline we all need to grow in. Let me know if you have any other tips that would be helpful to pass along to others!
Tune in next monday for next week’s tip. I am going to be talking about Volunteer recruiting. If you have any ideas of some things you want me to address let me know. By the way, I am going to attempt to post more often so stay tuned.