In my last post I wrote about how important it is to keep a file of encouraging notes from students to remind you that you are making a difference in your ministry. Recently, I have realized that there is a flip side to that. As I was writing that post a question hit me: “how often do I express my appreciation to those who have made a difference in my own life?” So I decided that anytime I have a chance I will tell those you have made a difference in my life specifically how much their involvement, encouragement, and guidance have made a difference in the person I am today.
I recently got a chance to put my new goal into practice. My wife and I attended a global assembly for our denomination where I ran into many of my former professors and colleagues. I pushed myself (because this is not easy for my personality type) to go right up to each one that made a difference in my life, and I specifically told them how much their influence has made a difference in my life. Yes, I did feel awkward doing it. However, it was a powerful time of connecting with them, and I even saw a few tear up. I also felt at peace knowing that I finally expressed my appreciation to those who have been a big influence in my life. And you know what….the more I did it the easier it got and the less awkward I felt.
We can’t expect our students to tell us how much of a difference we have made in their lives if we do not do the same. I want to encourage you to contact people that have made a difference in your life, and tell them. Never assume that they already know.