10 Ideas for Celebrating in Hardship

Many months ago in a Sunday service, my pastor said, “What we celebrate, we accelerate.” It was energizing to me then as I was working to launch some new ideas and I responded with a resounding, “YES!” 

What about when you are not in the mood to celebrate? What about when everything that had  been settled, now becomes unsettled? What about when the murky fog over the future leaves us feeling fearful? 

I have been drawn to the writings of King David lately. With beautiful poetic words he laments the realities in the world around him while also drawing his attention to the awesomeness of God and the nature of his relationship with this almighty God. Celebrating can be a complement to our reality even in hardship.

Key idea: “What we celebrate, we accelerate!”

As you lead in seasons of crisis there are quick decisions needed and lots of details to manage. It can seem like we are running from one thing to the next without even stopping to breathe. One of the first things that can slip off our radar is taking time to celebrate. In every crisis there is opportunity. In every crisis there are overcomers. In every crisis there are those who grieve well. In every crisis noteworthy things are happening all around us. These  are easy to miss if we don’t pause, look around and invite others to see them too and then celebrate with us the goodness in our midst. That’s the job of a leader.

So, as you look around today, take note. Here are a few ideas to guide your observations:

  1. Be genuine about what can be celebrated and what can’t >> acknowledge reality!
  2. What has never been done before by your team, yet they are now taking it on?
  3. What has dropped off the radar that is actually a relief?
  4. Notice the resiliency in your staff in the face of change. See them pushing forward.
  5. Reflect on new ideas and opportunities you would have otherwise missed.

What else gets you aware of the things you need to celebrate?

I know, the next question that just came to mind is how to celebrate TOGETHER when we can’t be together right now? Some celebrating can happen in those one-on-one conversations that you are still having, but there is something powerful about bringing people together to celebrate. So, let’s dive into a few ideas on how to celebrate in a socially distanced world!

  1. Give a “shout out” via internal messaging system >> be sure to highlight specific work accomplishments and personal effort
  2. Ask a few team members to share in one of your regularly scheduled virtual team meetings an act of kindness they have witnessed >> yes it can be non work related!
  3. Have everyone on the team type in the chat box of your virtual meeting room anything they are relieved they don’t have to do right now >> even if it is something core to the mission. It’s okay to celebrate a “break” that frees you up to do other things.
  4. Start an internal chain email >> type a personal note celebrating what a team member has done; ask them to add a note about someone else and what laudable activity or act of kindness they have done and then forward it on til everyone on the team receives it (if your staff is larger, do this in small groups)
  5. Keep a celebration notebook on hand to capture your observations >> have the rest of your leaders do the same. Compare notes at weekly meetings. 

It’s pretty easy to celebrate when things are going good. A harder discipline when things get tough. Yes, I said discipline . . . and a very necessary one, because “what we celebrate, we accelerate!”

Next Steps

  1. Look around for what to celebrate!
  2. Try a new way of celebrating
  3. Add to the list above by sharing in the comments below >> how are you celebrating with your team in a socially / physically distanced world?


Annie Perdue Olson

Annie is founder of Leading Better Together, guiding leaders through the relationship and people challenges that sidetrack ministry. With 20+ years of experience in nonprofit management and pastoral ministry she equips people and teams to work better together. She holds a Master of Arts in Human Resources and Change Leadership from St. Thomas University and received her coaching certification from the Center for Coaching Excellence.

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