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 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 anytime I need a pick-me-up, I take a few out and read them. I enjoy being told thank-you for a job well done…don’t you? I guess my “love language” is words of affirmation.
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 person’s soul.” I love that thought and the word picture it gives me. But I wonder how many of your teachers and 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 a job well done. It’s a lesson I learned early in my ministry—that a little praise goes a long way. Leaders shouldn’t have to live in an oxygen-deprived environment.
Here are a few ways you can start expressing thanks to your group 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 or 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’s 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?
Remember, praise is like oxygen to a worker’s soul. Don’t let your group leaders live in an oxygen-deprived environment…take steps this week to say “thank you.”
Ken Braddy is manager of Lifeway’s ongoing Bible studies. He leads a weekly Bible study group at his church, and blogs daily about Sunday School at kenbraddy.com.