The Power of a Hand-Written Note

Sam Rainer

August 20, 2017


Hand-written notes are rare. Electronic communication has all but erased the whimsy of cursive writing. The average adult writes something by hand about every 41 days, much less a hand-written note snail-mailed to a friend. The average home receives a personal letter in the mail every seven weeks.

In our wired world, hand-written notes seem to be a waste of time and money. Who would have thought 50 years ago that a postage stamp would cost much more than wireless texting through the sky? You can fling 160 SMS characters through the air in an instant. Why take the time to write a letter or send a card?

I believe every leader—especially pastors—should write hand-written notes. It’s not just for nostalgia. There are good leadership principles found in a hand-written note.

Investment. Hand-written notes take time. Time is money. Money is important. When you take the time to write someone a hand-written note, you are sending a message that is greater than the few sentences contained in the note. A hand-written note demonstrates personal investment in an individual.

Beauty. Even if you have sloppy penmanship, there is a beauty to hand-written notes. The slant and curves of letters give a glimpse into your personality. There is a vulnerable beauty to writing something by hand and giving it to someone.

Memory. People tend to keep hand-written notes. Electronic communication is permanent but in a different sort of way. Hand-written notes are memorable to the person, not just contained in the memory of the computer.

Gratitude. Hand-written notes show gratitude in a much greater way than other forms of electronic communication. You don’t typically ask for things in a hand-written note. Hand-written notes usually have thankfulness as their purpose.

When do I use hand-written notes? Our staff sends a signed card to every person we pray for in our weekly staff meeting. I also write notes weekly to church members who minister faithfully. I only write two or three a week, so I cannot write the vast majority of my church. But the notes are as much for maintaining my humility as they are thanking a member. I will also occasionally write a note to a key national leader, especially if I had the opportunity to meet him or her.

Take the time to write a hand-written note. Make it a weekly habit. You might be surprised at the fruit from such a simple discipline.


8 comments on “The Power of a Hand-Written Note”

  1. Jim Whaley says:

    I spend every Monday morning, writing hand-written notes and letters. They have proven to be a valuable part of my ministry throughout the years. I would encourage every staff member, especially the pastor to make this a regular part of their weekly routine.

  2. Marlene Taylor says:

    I love these words of wisdom. A hand written note is a labor of love and love is the greatest investment one can make in the life of another human being. People are genuinely touched and inspired when they receive a note or letter. So, keep writing.

  3. Kim Glenn says:

    I started writing a verse or note of encouragement to several college students from our church each week. At the end of the school year, each one sent me a picture of their stack of cards and letters. It made an impact!

  4. Susan Harris says:

    I always hand write thank you notes; even for work. It is a lost art which makes it more special.

  5. Roberta Jones says:

    I keep a small collection of hand-written notes. Some came directly to me: others belonged to my ancestors. Of the latter, my favorite is a sad one from the 1890s. My great-grandparents had just buried their second small child, who had died from membraneous croup. Someone, called M.O.S, wrote a poem to comfort them. The closing lines read, “And since our darling has gone, across death’s chilling river, we’ll humbly bow before the throne—and say, thy will be done, forever and forever.” Yes! Long live hand-written notes for their encouragement and comfort.

    1. Sam Rainer says:

      That is sad, but also a reminder of the power and timelessness of a note. Thanks!

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