How to Write the Perfect Note

Ok, the title of this post might be a tad misleading. Technically speaking, I do NOT know how to write a perfect note.

And don’t forget one of my life verses: “Where words are many, sin is not absent.” So there’s that…

However, writing notes to people is a powerful ministry. I think we can all learn from each other.

I’m betting you, like me, have a drawer of “keepers” – notes that have been especially timely, impactful, or encouraging.

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Like a squirrel with a stash of nuts he saves for the long winter nights, we may treasure and re-read these nuggets when we need a little encouragement, especially in dark, cold seasons.

What is it that gives special notes such value in your mind?

As I read back over my “stash” here are some of the elements I notice about people who write great notes:

  • They are SPECIFIC. In their note they recall a specific story, personal touch, greeting, or gift and the way it made them feel. Now I’m not saying everyone needs to be flowery. You need to be yourself. But the best note-writers use sparkling words that call on imagery. Instead of “Thanks for the delicious dinner”, they might write

“Your home is so cozy and welcoming!. The smell of pot roast and the glow of candles mingled with laughter and “yay God!” stories shared around the table were a gift at the end of a stressful day.”

Instead of “Thank you for your encouragement.” they might write

“When you gave me a hug yesterday and said how grateful you are for my service in the nursery it was like Jesus Himself was wrapping His arms around me. You could have rushed on by, but you stopped, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Thank you for the reminder that I’m ‘seen'”.

  • They empathize. They take time to put themselves in your place and name some of the challenges they see. You don’t have to have experienced the same thing, but look for a point of connection.
    • The notes that were the most moving after David’s death were from people who also have experienced loss. They went back to that place in their mind when they wrote.
    • The thank you’s for dinners we hosted when I had toddlers “helping” that acknowledged the additional time, sacrifice, and strain to entertain in that season, were greatly appreciated.
  • They’re both timely and unexpected.  I think the notes that maybe mean the most to me are the ones that don’t come after I’ve given a gift, or hosted an event, but just when someone notices something they appreciate and take the time to write about it.  These notes call out qualities in us that we may not see or hear day to day.

Timing may be as important as the words we use. When I was in college I worked as a volunteer in Young Life. The area director was an amazing role model who taught us the Bible and developed us as leaders. Years later I heard a message on mentors and felt an unmistakable nudge from the Holy Spirit to write him a note and thank him for the role he played in my life. Unfortunately I’ve lost his response, but it included words to the effect, “Your note came at one of the lowest days of my life. I was doubting anything I had done had made a difference. I can’t thank you enough.”

Those are some of the things I notice. What would you add that makes a good note? Who might you write today?

1 Comment

  1. Thanks Laura for the reminder to write those notes. I need to remember not to put it off. I thought often of writing a note to theology professor Tim Phillips at Wheaton Grad School whose teaching took my faith to a much deeper level. When I finally got around to looking up his contact info, I learned he died. I wish I had written that note when I first thought of it.

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