Two Key Words for Leaders

Think back to when you were growing up. When a birthday or Christmas gift arrived from a family member or friend, did your mom or dad make you write a thank you letter?

As a child, I loved receiving the gifts but I didn’t particularly like the discipline of saying thank you.  Now, I look back and I recognize the tremendous value of this simple discipline. Gratitude and thankfulness are central themes for the Christian life.  They bless God and bring encouragement to others.

Expressing gratitude and saying thank you is also critical for servant-leaders.  As former CEO of Herman Miller and best-selling author, Max DePree writes, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant and a debtor.”

Despite knowing about the importance of thankfulness, I can still struggle in this area.  Sometimes I get too busy. In the speed of life I can forget, get distracted or simply let good intentions go unaddressed.

To be honest, I also sometimes see the weed of entitlement growing in me.  This weed grows when we believe we ‘deserve’ or are ‘due’.  It usually grows the fastest when we are working the hardest. The consequence of this weed is we don’t actually receive the gifts given by God and others.  Instead, we begin to simply expect more. 

The good news is today is a new day. We can choose to say thank you to God and to others. So what could thankfulness look like for you today? Who could you thank this week? Maybe it’s…

  • A thank you/no agenda phone call to a donor or volunteer? A note hidden in your child’s lunchbox or ordering some flowers for your spouse?
  • An old-fashioned handwritten note (mailed not emailed) to a mentor, pastor or teacher who has impacted your life?
  • If they have already passed on, you could write their spouse or family. Some public or private words of thanks to a team member or even your entire team?
  • Sixty minutes you spend writing a psalm of thanks to God in your journal?
  • Taking an extra moment to simply say “thank you” to someone serving in a role or place you regularly overlook?
  • Words of appreciation expressed to a spouse, parents, siblings and other family members?

Your act of expressing thanks may very well be a difference maker for someone. Expressions of thanks are often divinely timed and delivered when others most need encouragement. Regardless, this simple discipline fights the entitlement weed and shapes our character toward gratitude. 

To The Point,

Dr. Steve Brown

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1Thessalonians 5:18