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Year-End Appreciation & Generosity: Writing Beautiful Life Chapters in A Challenging Season–Part Two

Part Two: A Look At How We Can Learn From 2020

By Steve Spoelhof

We're back with another blog written by our special guest author – one of The Joshua Group's consultants, Steve Spoelhof. If you missed Part One, you can find it here.


The year’s end is quickly approaching—I’ll be honest, I love and dread this season.

On one hand, what’s not to love about family gatherings, gifts, advent, church services, carols, cookies, and a few days off the grid? On the other hand, the pressure of getting the right gift, the scale that reveals we ate too many treats, hitting social limits as an introvert, and of course, too much football (like, who cares if the Lions play?) can be a little overwhelming.

But of all the things we do at this time of year, my absolute favorite is sharing appreciation and exercising generosity. Can I challenge you this month to show some love to those who led the way during these difficult times? To be very specific, I challenge you to write ten handwritten notes of gratitude to your top ten local heroes in your life.

No email substitutes or quick text messages—make it old school, cursive text or block letters, write it on a nice notecard, and send it via snail mail.

C’mon, we all like mail. We will read notes again and again. And we may even stick them on the fridge for all to see. A handwritten note speaks love.

So, who’s in your top ten?

Do you have a niece who is a nurse? (I’ve got three.) How about an uncle who kept a truck rolling through it all? Do you have a friend who kept teaching children throughout all the turmoil? The principals of your kids’ schools? What about a sister who brought you food when you were sick, a pastor who kept track of you and checked in, a mother who prayed for you during homeschooling, the local rescue mission leader (thank you Darryl), a boss who figured out a creative way to keep everyone working, or even a partner who loved you during your grumpiest days?

See—it’s not as difficult as you might think. Identifying your ten should be a breeze. Show your love—this is the time to do it.

This season is all about generosity. Whatever your faith, the premise of Christmas is the gift of the Christ child over two thousand years ago. What does that inspire us to give? Generosity isn’t always a character trait that comes naturally, in fact, it’s one that needs consistent practice.

The world’s marketing machine is in overdrive these days, always telling, teasing, poking, or guilting us into a new this or that. And all of it— all of that better, bigger, and best advertising noise—pulls us out of any contentment we may have developed this year, making us feel less gracious, less blessed, and less thankful.

Fight it. Shrug it off. Be a duck and let all the sneaky marketing messages roll off your back.

The best remedy to the world’s call for “more” is saying just one word—“enough.”

Generosity beats materialism every day. So, let’s all endeavor to exercise our generosity muscle.

Not sure how to be generous? Consider these things:

  1. What breaks your heart in your community/world/church?

  2. Who do you know who is addressing this need/gap/pain?

  3. How can you get involved? Does it mean giving time, talent, or treasure? Perhaps all of them?

  4. Write the check, make the call, give them your time.

  5. Do it again and again and again.

This may seem overly simplistic, but it’s the perfect start on a journey to a more generous heart. Soon, you’ll start to identify to whom you give, developing your reason why, the methodology, the regularity, and other aspects of your very own giving strategy.

But be careful—the unanticipated result will be a subtle sense of joy in the act of giving.

When your heart and checkbook are released to help the world become a better place, even in small ways, you’re exercising muscles that will truly blow your mind.

So, there are two things to add to your December, year-end task list:

  • Ten handwritten notes of appreciation to your heroes.

  • Exercise your gift of generosity in time, talent, and treasure—do this again and again.

Grace and peace,


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