Appreciation literally means to raise in value. It’s the opposite of depreciation. Depreciation is what happens when you buy a new car and it drops in value as soon as you pull out of the car lot! Appreciation, on the other hand, means to raise in value. If you raise the value of your wife, you appreciate her. If you want to raise the value of those you serve with, you appreciate them. The more you appreciate a situation, the more it raises in value.
Paul understood this. He had a continuous attitude of gratitude. Philippians 1:3-5 says, “I thank my God every time I remember you because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day.” When was the last time you thanked those on your team for their “partnership in the gospel”?
You should. Be an encourager. Continually value those you lead. You can affirm them in four different ways.
- Affirm their efforts. At one time at Saddleback, I regularly awarded the Giant Killer award. I picked up five stones from the same brook in Israel that David did before he killed Goliath. I mounted them on a plaque and handed it out for someone on my team who tackled the biggest problem of the month. They didn’t have to solve the problem. They just had to tackle it. That’s about effort.
- Affirm their loyalty. If you’ve been in ministry in your current location for any time at all, it’s likely you’ve had people with you that have stayed with you through tough times. Whether they’re serving in a paid position or a volunteer one, they could go elsewhere – maybe for better pay. Take some time to let those you lead know much you appreciate their loyalty.
- Affirm their differences. You should be glad the people on your team are different. It would be very boring if they were alike. Differences on your team are not weaknesses; they’re strengths. Good teams will have introverts and extraverts; people-orientated and task-orientated folks. God puts people with differences together on the same ministry team because it makes the team stronger.
- Affirm their ideas. As a basic rule, I try to say “yes” to any new idea. Then I come back later to figure out if something’s wrong with it. Since I usually take that approach, I typically ask those close to me to tell what’s wrong with their idea when they share it. We need someone thinking of potential pitfalls! Your ministry will be as creative as your organization allows it to be. Unfortunately, most churches have structures and traditions that limit or kill creativity. Don’t be like most churches. Affirm ideas that come from your team. When you affirm an idea, you greatly enhance the possibility of getting another one!
Be an affirming leader. Develop a culture of affirmation in your church. Those you lead will appreciate it. The Kingdom will be advanced because of it, too.