The author of Ecclesiastes writes that there is a time for everything. Working in ministry, you know this. In ministry, there are times where everything seems to be working (12 trusted Christ at the Call of Duty tournament!!!). Other times, not so much. You need an Encouragement File during both of these times:
WHAT IT IS
An Encouragement File is simply a file of encouragement that you have received by other people. I keep a literal file folder of papers in my desk, readily accessible if I need it on an off-day or during a discouraging season of ministry.
HOW TO START
Begin collecting encouragement from others. Pastor Appreciation cards, encouraging e-mails from parents, notes from your spouse or parents, and Facebook statuses are great places to start. I copy and paste Facebook statuses into one file and occasionally print it out to update my encouragement file. You are looking for EVERY single piece of encouragement that you can find.
WHEN TO USE IT
1. Times of discouragement. There will be times in your ministry where you will get greatly discouraged. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, it will! During these times, read through your Encouragement File. Be reminded that good things DID happen at one time, and lives were positively changed.
*If continually discouraged for a lengthy period of time, consider seeing a non-local Pastor (someone that you can let your “Pastor-guard” down to) or a highly recommended, Christian counselor.
2. Times of planning. Pull out your encouragement file when you plan your ministry calendar. You would be amazed how helpful it is to start out with a list of events/topics/Scriptures that teens or parents were already helped by. It’s a good reminder that expensive/flashy/etc. is not always the most effective (i.e. “The car giveaway touched my heart last night!” or “The Pizza For Life giveaway forever changed my teen’s life…”) , but the consistent, steady, and Godly influence of you and your team are more effective.
Here’s a start for your Encouragement File: You are making a positive difference in your teens’ lives!
Andrew Brashaw is a youth pastor of 8+ years in New Lothrop, MI. He doesn’t blog or own an iPhone, but he does Twitter once a month @andrewbrashaw.