'Tis the season—the season when church leaders and volunteers feel the squeeze of work and family life. From Christmas cards to gift wrapping to party planning, Christmas adds a new dimension to our already hectic lives.
And then there's church! For weeks, volunteers have been feverishly preparing Christmas programs, organizing gift markets, coordinating food drives. Church workers have been hard-pressed on every side with little relief.
All of the extra work that comes with the Christmas season—even when it's fulfilling and meaningful—can lead to year-end burnout. So now is a perfect time to get creative about how you show appreciation to your ministry volunteers. Here are a few creative ways to say thank you as you begin the new year.
When a woman at my church did an extraordinary job leading an event this fall, I didn't just send her a thank you e-mail. Instead, I wrote an e-mail to my senior pastor and elders, commending her work in detail. Many leaders, mired in their own responsibilities, don't always know the particulars of—or people involved in—each ministry. Several of my colleagues who received my e-mail responded by sending a personal note of thanks to this volunteer. By sharing my gratitude for her with others, she received a flood of thanks that otherwise would have been missed.
Year-end is a great time to offer your ministry leaders the gift of gratitude. Instead of sending them a quickly jotted note or e-mail, take time to pray for each of them. Ask God to lead you to a Scripture to pray for them—and then share this with each of them individually. The apostle Paul's letters are a great place to start looking for examples of how to pray for those you shepherd and mentor, and how to express your gratitude to them.
Go Vintage—Use the Phone
Consider calling each volunteer—or those most actively involved—just to thank them specifically for what they mean to you. It is a rare gift to receive a phone call where the caller isn't asking you to do anything! Before calling, make a note of a specific quality you want to bring up to the person. Try to avoid thanking them for work they do in the church; rather, think about a way you can thank them for what they mean to you. I recently shared with a friend how much her wisdom and advice have helped me become a better leader. Your team will feel prized when they know they are supporting you and that you value their friendship.