Things that can make your day: I got a card in the mail saying, "Thanks for agreeing to be a workshop leader. Get yourself a cup of joe or a bagel on the way to the conference." And tucked inside the note was a $5 Dunkin Donuts gift card.
What a nice thing to do. Religious life runs on volunteer energy, and since ministers make our living "doing" religious life, we feel it's our job to thank lay leaders, not to be thanked by them. That said, I must say that when life gets tough in the ministry, I take out my files of thank you cards and letters and re-read them, taking fuel for the heart from those tokens of appreciation. I have learned over time that gratitude is a very energy-generating thing. When someone takes the time to thank me, I get more energy. It's like a little science experiment that works every time. When I make a decision to cultivate gratitude, I get more energy. Simple. Voila.
Parish ministers don't just serve the parish, of course. We serve the larger movement and our communities, which means that in addition to our parish duties, we serve on denominational or inter-faith committees, we try to accept speaking engagements whenever we're asked (and some of us are asked pretty frequently), we write articles and essays as requested for various publications, we attend conferences and spend many hours consulting with ordained lay and clergy leadership on a wide variety of issues, we participate in or attend ordinations and installations, we go to collegial gatherings. Much of this work is invisible to the folks in our parish, but I have come to respect the office of the clergy far more deeply over the years as I realize all that my colleagues in parish ministry do outside their own congregations.
Most of what we do outside the parish gets little or no thanks. Actually, let me amend that. Much of what we do outside the parish but within the Unitarian Universalist movement gets little or no thanks. It has been a bugaboo of mine over which I am known to scream and yell, earning a reputation as "that Loud-Mouthed Wench Who Keeps Yelling About Needing To Appreciate Each Other More." I freely admit it. C'est moi.
So it was really lovely to open this card and get this appreciative "thumbs up" in the form of this card, and please don't tell me that Dunkin Donuts is an evil corporation, because while it's undoubtedly true, I am so using that gift card with no guilt, and with very warm feelings for the person who sent it. WELL played, madame.