One piece of advice that I was given by one of my youth ministry professors in college was to keep a folder with all of the encouraging letters, notes, and emails that I had received from students and parents in my ministry. Then during times of discouragement I can go to that file to remind myself that I am making a difference, and receive the valuable encouragement that I need to get through those tough times. I am sure that many of you have heard this advice before, but I must tell you that it is very profound.
A few months back I went through one of those discouraging times in my ministry. I felt like I was failing in our youth ministry and that students weren’t “getting it”. Looking back I realized that I was just overacting to a dry period in our ministry that all ministers go through at some point. But the thing that made the difference was that simple folder of encouraging letters and notes. It reminded that I have been blessed to be a part of this ministry and God has done great things while I have been here. We all go through times of discouragement, and a simple thing like a folder of encouraging notes is the thing that might make the difference in getting us through those dark times.
Side note: I have also started to include pictures of events and students in my folder. As they say, “a picture says a thousand words” or something like that.