I just read this article by Matthew McNutt about feeling appreciated during pastor appreciation month. He lists some things he has around his office that help him fight off the spirit of discouragement. It got me thinking about something that has helped me. I wanted to share it in case it sounds like something that can help you – my 5 faithful readers 🙂
When I was serving as youth leader at my first church, I came to a point where there was a lot of discouragement and criticism coming at me. I was close friends with the pastor and his wife and I remember them inviting me over one night after youth group to have a cup of coffee.
The pastor handed me a yellow pocket folder. He had written “Sara’s encouragement file” on the front. In it were some notes from students and parents telling me how much they appreciated me. There was a note from the pastor and one from his wife. He told me to hang on to the folder and add to it whenever I came across something encouraging. And then stick it somewhere safe for the days when I needed it.
I’m not at that church anymore – and the pastor has moved on to another position as well. But I still have the yellow folder. There are scriptures written on scraps of paper, devotions ripped out of magazines, screen shots of myspace messages, etc. I just added something to it this morning. It’s a picture that a student posted on facebook of the two of us with the caption that reads “awesome mentor; pretty much owe her my life on at least three occasions.”
There are days when I feel like no one notices or appreciates anything I do. There are days when all I get from people are complaints and a list of ways to do things better. There are days when my biggest accomplishment is getting the pepsi stain out of the carpet in the youth lounge. There are days when it feels like all of my students are crashing and burning and I am somehow to blame.
Those are days when I pull out my yellow folder.
If you are in ministry – any kind, not just youth – I would recommend an encouragement folder. Nothing fancy or prideful. Just reminders that you have an eternal impact for those days when you feel like throwing in the towel and finding an easier job – selling insurance or something.