Struggling With The Etiquette of Correspondence

Have you ever felt weighed down by your email? Is it challenging to stay on top of responding back to people? Here are three points that might help alleviate that burden for both you and those who await your response.

1) Introduce a simple “Hey Tap” into your email-checking routine. When you are glancing through your email, hit the reply, and quickly insert some variation of “Thanks for the email, get back to you soon.” This can be very helpful in your correspondence and relationship maintenance because it communicates to the sender that their message has not been lost in the cracks (or junk) and that you are taking the brief time to acknowledge that their message is important to you. This removes the stressful pressure of trying to make sure that you aren’t blowing people off unintentionally. Because people have different expectations for response time, this will ensure that you are making the first step in respectful personal or professional etiquette.

2) Don’t let your inbox be your reminder list. Quite frequently we will use our inbox as a resting place for unanswered emails. This can be a good system for your first week of using a new email account, but very quickly the list grows beyond your visage. As they say, “out of sight, out of mind.” Thus, other measures may be more effective in keeping on top of your responses. Most email accounts offer you the ability to create subfolders for your emails to be stored. Consider creating a folder called “Unanswered Emails”. By having a specific folder with these emails in it, you will be more likely to respond. If you have a reminder function with your email or your phone, consider also implementing a reoccurring reminder that says “Check Unanswered Emails”.

3) Resist the temptation to “say it all” in your email. Often times we are personally discouraged from responding to an email because we are either waiting for the right words or we feel that the response would need to be more lengthy than we have time to compose. Emails are for your benefit! Consider tying off an email with “I have some other points to mention, but I’ll have to get back with you.” Using this method not only gives you the freedom to take a breath in your response, but it also gives your receiver the opportunity to respond to what you have written thus far, just as one would in verbal communication.

Remember that your ability to email is a benefit to you and should not be a shackle. Let’s be a blessing to our friends and colleagues by putting our foot forward in the etiquette of correspondence.

The Potential Freedom of Freedom

Do you feel chained down? Strapped? Confined? Bottled up? With all of the stresses in life and the many decisions we all face every day, there are few who can say that they don’t, at some point, feel this way. And it can be very confusing to go to church, listen to praise music, or even the advice of loved ones telling us of our freedom in Christ; only to find that, daily, we end up facing the restraints of our circumstances and relationships. Why are so many of us stressed when we know that we are supposed to be experiencing freedom in Jesus Christ? There are so many resources, biblically, to draw from concerning this freedom we are meant to have. And yet, if you have spent any time in Christian fellowship, then you likely are well “versed” in these references. The most direct is from our Lord Jesus when He says, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:30). Another very helpful reference is Christ’s teaching about anxiousness in Luke 12. Properly, any good Christian Brother or Sister should point to these in order to reroute us in our stressful, confining, human ways. But I think that we are meant to do more than receive this sage advice. We have an obligation to be poised and ready for it.

Today, there are many distractions in our lives which may lead us to either not listen to what the Bible tells us or to quickly forget it when the next arrow comes. To be specific, we have to get out of our own way in order to receive the guidance of what Jesus so clearly tells us. Praise the Lord that we are not alone in this. The Holy Spirit works in us and molds us. He is our given counselor. And yet, we still have choice. So, the question is, what can we do to prepare ourselves, amidst the chaos, to be receptive of the Lord’s guidance? Here are three tips:

1)      Sanctification properly carries repentance with it. We must always keep with us the repentant acknowledgement that the reason we live in a fallen world is because of sin. Our repentance must accompany our desire to grow in Jesus. However, if repentance becomes self-loathing, then there is no freedom in Christ. Therefore, we must make great efforts to constantly live with hope while never forgetting where we came from as mere men and women.

2)      We must acknowledge that we are not a finished product. We are a work in progress and that involves going through the hard times in order to be sanctified. Simply recognizing this can take such a distracting burden off of our shoulders because it is extremely hard to see straight when we are always looking behind us, lamenting that we are not perfect.

3)      Feeling better may sometimes come as a result, but it cannot be the purpose. When simply feeling better is our goal then our development in Jesus Christ is not what we are after. We are seeking after our own benefit. When anxious, we must acknowledge and know in our hearts that God has a plan, He is in control, and all things will work to His glory (which is to our good too!)

In closing, let us remember that freedom exists not simply in the ability to choose whatever course we want, but it is the ability to exist securely knowing that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:35-39).