I grew up in a home where I was raised writing thank you notes from the time I was little. I would practice on a piece of loose leaf before Mom would take out some of her pretty cards with matching envelopes for my final draft. Sometimes I'd even use stamps on the outer envelope.
Since then, I have always loved to send thank you notes.
It is a tradition I have carried into my work as a youth minister. Ever since I began working with teenagers, I have sent each teen a handwritten thank you note after they attend an event or meeting for the first time.
Last Sunday, was our final youth ministry meeting for the year. Part of this night, we take time to celebrate and honor our graduating seniors. We also have time to share memories and stories people have of our graduates. We laughed a lot and shed some tears.
After closing prayer, teens hung out a bit longer to say goodbyes and socialize.
I had wrote each of the seniors a letter and was passing them out one by one.
I got to Nick. He is a young man I have have worked with and gotten to know a lot over the past five years. Its been so cool to see him grow in his Christian identity as a young man. I am proud of the man I see him becoming.
As I gave Nick his letter, he told he had saved in his leadership binder the thank you note I wrote over 4 years ago after he attended his first youth ministry meeting. I was absolutely shocked that he had saved it over the years. Nick said he wanted to give it back to me.
Well by that point I was crying.
I promised him I would hang it up somewhere special in my office.
Over the years, I have probably written hundreds of thank you notes to young people. Some maybe were thrown out, but this thank you note to Nick made a difference. It struck him.
Don't underestimate the power of little actions done with love and care. You may not see the fruit of it, but sometimes you'll get a glimpse. And when those moments catch you by surprise it is really, really cool.
Ministry doesn't always give you the chance to see the end result. But when you get to see some of that fruit, be grateful. And keep on planting, sowing, and tending. You never know how your words, actions, or attitude can reach another person.
And never under estimate the power of a thank you note.