A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of sliver. – Proverbs 25:11
Have you ever received an unexpected note thanking you for the impact you have had or the service you have done in the life of another individual? Recently, my wife received a note with some very gracious and kind words of thanks for her faithful and tireless service to the women of EBC, and I encouraged her to do what I do whenever I receive such a note: save it for later. It can be very hard to predict just when you will need to have your spirit lifted, but one thing I know for sure is that there will come a time in 2014 when she will need to be reminded that her ministry and service is making a difference. She will grow weary investing hour after hour in the lives of others, and she will become discouraged when she doesn’t see the growth and change she hopes to see. She will be hurt by criticism, even if it was never meant to hurt her, because she cares so deeply for her friends and family in the church that she pours her heart into everything she does for them. She will get frustrated by a husband that doesn’t always understand her needs and children who are always demanding something from her. What I am trying to say is that, while I can’t predict exactly when she will need to be encouraged, I can predict with absolute certainty that there will come a time when she desperately needs a reminder of the value of her ministry. And so I recommended that she put the note in a safe place to be taken out as needed for a helpful reminder that all of the effort is worth it after all.
I started saving notes of encouragement when my college roommate took his own life, and the words of hope and comfort that I received were a powerful reminder to me of the love of Christ through his people. When I was a high school teacher, I always kept thank-you notes from my students in my top desk drawer, to remind me that my efforts were never really wasted, even if they seemed like it sometimes. As a pastor, I have continued to save letters and cards of encouragement to remind me of the work that God is doing in the lives of those he has placed in my care. Due to the spiritual nature of church ministry, it can be nearly impossible for us to see what God is doing through us in the lives of others, and often the only way we can know the effect of our service is to hear the testimony of those in whose lives we have made a difference. So this year, I want to encourage each of you to make a point of saying thanks to those who have had a positive influence on your life, but don’t just say it to them, write down specific ways that they have blessed you and helped you to grow in the faith. Your simple expression of gratitude may be the very thing that God will use to help them through a time of discouragement and difficulty, so consider your thanksgiving to be a vital part of your Christian service in 2014.
And one final thought: It is a privilege and honor to be able to serve you in the Lord, and I look forward to seeing you every Sunday and Wednesday as we fellowship and worship together at EBC. May the name of our Lord Jesus Christ be glorified in you and you in Him, according to His grace.