The Power of Diet Coke and Crackers

Inspiring Your Team through Appreciation

It was a Sunday night and I had set down my guitar and turned off my amp. I jumped off the stage and began to walk toward the sound booth. Along the way a very well respected woman from our church approached me with something in her had. I couldn’t make out what it was.

It had been two weeks since “Pastor Appreciation Month” (I must admit, I’m not sure who made that declaration in the first place) and another year passed without so much as a “thank you” thrown my way. I didn’t care. I knew God saw what I did for his Church.

As I moved closer it became clear what she held: a card. I wouldn’t have thought it was for me except that I could now see my name, “DAVE,” in bold letters across the front. We met midway and she began to share words of deep appreciation for my gifts, abilities and gratitude for all I do at the church. She handed me the card and, for the first time, I had been thanked as a pastor.

Fast Forward

This past August, I wanted to show my team that I appreciated them both as teammates and friends. It wasn’t “team appreciation month” (maybe I should declare August as that month) but just a day when I felt called to love on them. Hours before a meeting I sent a text to the team asking two questions:

  1. What’s your favorite snack?
  2. What’s your favorite drink?

That afternoon, I stopped by the supermarket and picked up 1 box of Cheez-It snack mix, 1 bag of tortilla chips with a can of salsa and one bag of Sour Cream & Cheddar Baked Lays. To drink I bagged 1 Diet Coke, 1 americano iced coffee and 1 Arizona Tea Arnold Palmer.

When my teammates entered the room their favorites were on the table.

What Was the Purpose?

I explained the items on the table represented our collective uniqueness. They needed to know that no other group of individuals could produce what we could. Without each other we would miss the “salsa” or the “Diet Coke”. Ultimately the message I wanted to communicate was, “you add value to this team because you bring something no one else can: yourself.”

Appreciating Your Team is Inspiring Your Team

After our meeting that day I received an email from a teammate. She shared, among other thoughts, that our weekly meeting together is one of the highlights of her week.

The teammate who sent this email is a social media volunteer contributing 6-9 hours a week. Really consider that… a highlight of her week is volunteering her time to be a part of our team. It’s absolutely AMAZING!

Full Circle

In the same way that I wasn’t looking for recognition during pastor appreciation month, these team members aren’t looking for praise. But they need it. There is an inherent desire inside of each person to be recognized for their contributions. You and I want to know that what we do matters. Intentional appreciation says more than “I see what you do.” It communicates, “what you do matters.”

I’m not sure if my team will look back on that August meeting with the same fondness as I have for my pastor appreciation moment, but that’s not the point. The point is that a good leader uses appreciation as a way of inspiring others to continue fighting because they believe what they do matters.