Have you ever noticed how Paul begins more than half a dozen of his letters?
- Paul states who he is, because of Christ
- Paul states who the recipient is, because of Christ
- Paul gives thanks for the recipient (because of Christ)
And then? Paul goes on with his main message.
Try something: replace Paul’s name with yours in the above list and think back: when was the last time you approached your leadership team like Paul?
If the first two steps seem a bit far-fetched for you then, in the least, ask yourself this: when was the last time you started a meeting, conversation, or email with ‘thank you’?
Thank you – before asking any question?
Thank you – before giving any direction?
Thank you – before getting on with your main message?
Look at how the New Living Translation characterizes the hearts of Paul, Silas, and Timothy in 2 Thessalonians 1:3 “…we can’t help but thank God for you…”
When was the last time you “couldn’t help but…” say thank you?
Think about that.
There’s an urgency within them. A “must do” compulsion in their hearts to express love with immense gratitude, right up front.
And it makes me want to ask: How can I have a heart like this, Jesus?
IDEA #1: Choose People-work more than Paperwork
It has been my experience in vocational ministry that we say ‘please’ much more often than we say ‘thank you’. We can get so wrapped up in the paperwork of leading a ministry – the behind-the-scenes planning and the asking of others to help us with those plans – that we forget the people–work of ministry. We forget to take the time to express love by intentionally noticing the gifts of others around us – and lifting them up. Out loud. And often.
HEART CHECK – When you’re mapping out your week, how much of your time is devoted to paperwork? Do you only contact people to fill roles and take on tasks? Or do you thoughtfully connect with others? How often do you thank, affirm, and uplift those who regularly serve right beside you in the trenches of ministry?
IDEA #2: Encourage Connection not Quarantine
If you’ve ever been a part of a team where acknowledgement and accolades are rare to nonexistent, you’ve probably experienced the following:
- Depleted motivation (“Why even bother?”)
- Questioning of sanity (“Am I the only one who is struggling here?”)
- Identity crisis or discouragement in your call (“Maybe I’m not supposed to do this…”)
- Being a “team” in name only (“we’re just a group people in the same place at the same time”)
This is because when we don’t practice the holy habit of thankfulness, we’re not actively trying to see others as the unique beings God’s making them to be. We aren’t looking for opportunities to lift others up and can quickly house hearts that are incompetent when it comes to expressing authentic appreciation. Neglecting the call to outwardly value others stifles our growth and hurts the Kingdom impact we hope to make.
So, instead, let’s be leaders who encourage connection. Let’s cultivate teams who can’t be successful without collaboration. Let’s build our ministries around the truth that we need each other – and then let’s frequently celebrate why that’s true!
HEART CHECK – What does your team culture look like? Do individuals know their unique contributions matter and make the group stronger? Do you praise the offerings of your teammates on a regular basis? Are you encouraging others to do the same?
IDEA #3: Marvel at the Maker
Our God is a genius. Read and be reminded how he designed the body of Christ:
“God has put the body together… so that… its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” -1 Corinthians 12:24-26 (NIV)
When we pause and give thanks for a brother or sister in Christ… When someone calls out – with praise – some of the extraordinary that makes me, me – and you, you… These are moments when God gets honored because people get loved. And ALL can rejoice.
And when we ignore such opportunities? We all suffer. Because we miss a moment with our Maker.
HEART CHECK – What does it take for you to pause and give thanks for someone else? Who’s someone in your life who you know is suffering and needs some appreciation, right now? What can you do this day, this month, this year to honor God with your thankfulness?
Do you need some ideas on how to say thank you? Here’s a thoughtful top 10 list.
Do you need some reasons why living a life of gratitude is good for us? Here’s a list of 7 scientifically proven benefits.
Do you want to NOT read something else? Here’s a 3 minute TED talk about the Power of Thank You.