Pastoral Hack #6 - A You're Terrific File

Pastoral Hack #6 – Create a You’re Terrific File & Use It

 A hack is anything that provides a shortcut toward being effective. Using pastoral hacks is working smart even while you work hard.

 This pastoral hack may seem self-serving. It isn’t, instead it helps keep things in balance.

The You’re Terrific File principle came from a corporate training seminar in the early 90s. The seminar was on marketing and advertising, but the presenter was more of a motivational speaker. She shared ideas I’ve used since then.

You’re Terrific File

 Simple: a plain manila folder on which the words You’re Terrific has been written. The You’re Terrific file needs to be conveniently close for two reasons. 

  • Now with the file prepared when anyone writes you a note of appreciation drop the note in the file.
  • When a person speaks a word of appreciation, write down the gist of what was said, drop it in the file.
  • When a child draws a picture of you while church is going on – drop it in the file. The child drawing a picture of you means they like you and you are almost heroic to them.

 That is the first stage of using the You’re Terrific file.

 The second and more meaningful phase comes when you don’t feel terrific about yourself. Then there are the times when it seems no other person feels you are terrific. Even your rescue dog doesn’t like you.

This is when you open the You’re Terrific file and begin reading the tidbits of validation that have come your way over the months and years. The sermon that changed the direction someone was headed. Your kindness to someone at a funeral. The wisdom with which you handled a problem. 

You have not always been in the doldrums. Everybody has not always been against you. Brother Elijah, there are some people other than you who want to see God’s work go forward. You are not alone, and your work has not been without meaning. Quite often people you serve express appreciation for you doing the work of a shepherd:  feeding, leading, seeking them when they wandered and healing their hurts. 

The You’re Terrific File for the Digital Age 

My You’re Terrific file extends back over 35 years. It is now several file folders thick. 

But something has changed. In the 21st century, most words of appreciation come via email, text messages, or social media. There are two options before you: 

  • Create a digital You’re Terrific file on Evernote or a similar app. Cut and paste every compliment and kind word. Take pictures of text messages expressing appreciation (Authors do this, because it provides what is known as social proof of the significance of their writing.)
  • The second option is to print hard copy of the positive comments and put them in the You’re Terrific file folder. Many of we baby-boomers like the feel of paper – so I print these bits of encouragement. 

A nice comment on Twitter or Facebook - screenshot it and into the You’re Terrific file it goes.  

My You’re Terrific files have been through five moves, seven offices, multiple churches, time as a religious executive, multiple secretaries and one drenching flood. It includes everything from a child scrawling, “Bro. Coon, you are the best preacher ever,” a formal letter of commendation for my service on the Congressional Legislative Committee for the now defunct Association of Independent Colleges and Schools, and a personal letter of validation from the late T.C. Bonnette.

 As many of you know, on occasion I go to war against depression. In such times, when the extra energy can be mustered, reading through a bit of this accumulation reminds me that things have not as bad as the depression is declaring.

 It can be invigorating to read a note from a person then young who has progressed in ministry, becoming something more than many expected.

 There are several benefits of the hack of creating a You’re Terrific file: 

  1. Each item in the You’re Terrific file will bring back a memory.
  2. There are people who don’t think you are terrific. There are at least two people (and maybe a few more) who literally hate me. If all I thought about was their dislike and mentally defended myself regarding their frustrations I'd never get anything done. The notes in the You're Terrific file help balance their disdain. 
  3. The Bible teaches us to “think no more highly of ourselves than we ought” but we can think of ourselves honestly. Arrogance triggers my, "I don't like this," feeling. But meekness nor humility require you to act as though you don’t have ability and have accomplished nothing. My You’re Terrific file indicates that somewhere along the line, someone thought I was doing something right. And it is ok for me to also feel that I've done some things right.  

This is cheap, simple, easy to work and will give your emotions and mind a boost at times when it is needed.

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