“Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.” – 1 Corinthians 2:11

On the Personal Note
I find myself writing personal notes more an more each week, especially with so many friends experiencing life changes during this season of their lives. Whether I am touching base with a long lost friend or congratulating a new mother on the birth of her child, many of my notes include similar elements. I have made a list of these elements below, and I have provided biblical examples for each of them. These examples are taken from some of the most poignant letters ever written–Paul’s Epistles.

The Personal Note Challenge
Personal notes are a great way to nurture relationships and to offer encouragement to others. Below is a list of elements that occur commonly in personal notes. These elements can be found throughout Paul’s epistles, and they can help to guide you as you compose your own notes. I challenge you to draft a note today. Go on and encourage a young believer, evangelize to a new acquaintance, or let an old friend know that he or she has been in your thoughts.

Remember, you do not have to include all of the elements below. Also, it is highly recommend that you draft your note on scratch paper before using a good card or stationery.

Elements of the Personal Note

1. Salutation/Greeting

You can stick with the traditional “Dear,” or you can spice it up with something more inventive, the way Paul did. Some of my favorite salutations: Hi, Greetings, Shalom (goodbye and hello), ciao (goodbye and hello), Dearest (when I want to be goofy).

To Timothy my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” -1 Timothy 1:2

2. Statement of purpose

-Why you decided to write (a reason other than “it was a Bible study assignment”)
-Why you think God has placed the recipient on your heart

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly unitedin mind and thought. -1 Corinthians 1:10

3. Thanks for who the recipient is or for something he or she has done

“We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters,and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.”
-2 Thessalonians 1:3

4. Thanks to God for the work that he is doing or has done in the recipient’s life

“I always thank my God for youbecause of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge—God thus confirming our testimonyabout Christ among you.”-1 Corinthians 1: 4-6

5. An encouraging reflection on a memory or experience that you have shared with the recipient

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called.Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise…” -1 Corinthians 1: 26-27

6. Update on the recipient’s life

-Mention news that you have heard about the recipient and his or her family.
-Mention life changes, events, or important dates that the recipient has recently shared with you and ask about progress in those areas.
-If you have no information on the recipient’s life, ask questions about his or her life, family, upcoming plans, or work.

“My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s householdhave informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12.” -1 Corinthians 1:11

7. Update on your life

-A current “snapshot” of you and your family
-Who is in school, graduating, learning to walk, getting a job, getting married?
-Projects or work that you are completing
-Special trips, holiday plans, or new hobbies and interests

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters,about the troubles we experiencedin the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.” -2 Corinthians 1:8

8. Praise or reflection on a specific way in which God is working in your life

By the grace God has given me,I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. -1 Corinthians 3:10

9. Your prayer requests

As for other matters, brothers and sisters,pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.” -2 Thessalonians 3:1

10. Encouragement to your recipient

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
-1 Corinthians 10:31

11. Plans for reconnection

Be honest. Don’t say, “We have to get together sometime,” unless you REALLY mean it. Also, setting a specific timeframe can make the reconnection more successful. For example, if you know you are going to have some downtime in a week, suggest meeting up, calling, video conferencing, or chatting during that time.

After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you—for I will be going through Macedonia – 1 Corinthians 16:5

12. Closing

Say goodbye in a loving, memorable way. If you’d like, try something other than the traditional “Sincerely.” Some of my favorite closers: Much Love, In Him, In his hands, Hug, Heart, Your sister/brother.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.
My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen”
-1 Corinthians 16:23-24

13. Bible verse

Include a bible verse that emphasizes a theme from your note. For example, if you are writing to comfort a friend who as recently suffered a loss, your note might include themes like “comfort,” “grief,” “God’s ways,” and “peace.” If your note is to a young adult who has been struggling to find love in life, then you might want to emphasize themes like “love,” “loneliness,” and “unity with God.” Use a study Bible with an index, a concordance, or an online Bible to locate verses about those themes. Pray over which verse to choose, and write it in a blank space on your note card. You might also try incorporating the verse into the body of your note.

Additional Tips

1. Keep all of your note cards, address labels, stationary, and stamps in one box. I used to use cigar boxes. Pretty gift boxes or decorative boxes from craft stores also work well.

2. Keep a full book of stamps on hand at all times. I buy a book of stamps about once a month at the grocery store.

3. As per note length, there is not hard rule. I suggest writing at minimum of one paragraph (5-8) sentences for a note and several paragraphs for a letter. Please do not get hung up on counting sentence. Just write.

4. DRAFT! DRAFT! DRAFT! Drafting your note on scratch paper helps you to save note cards that you might otherwise toss due to messiness or errors. Drafting also helps you to see how long your note will be and what size note card you will need.

5. Keep plenty of note cards on hand. I buy mine on clearance at craft stores like Michael’s and at the Dollar Tree. I’ve gotten as many as eight for $0.50, and I’ve never paid more than $1.50 for six note cards. Not to mention, they’re really cute. I have also been told that Sam Flax has a nice selection of stationery and cards.