Years ago, I got into the practice of periodically sending out personal “thank you” notes to my subordinates. The impact initially stunned me; I had recipients coming up to me with tears in their eyes. This simple act of heart-felt recognition took a few minutes of my time – but you would have thought I’d written them a check for a million dollars rather than a simple little note!
This revelation truly had humble, slightly desperate beginnings. Previously, I had simply sent out birthday cards to people in my organization; I’d write a brief greeting on it, mail it off and I was done. But the time came when my staff included 350 people and 30 commanders; I was living in Los Angeles at the time, the kids were in college and finances were stretched . . . and cards, that many at least, were expensive.
My solution was to hand-write each person a note on my official stationary. What was something of an expedient for me – though the messages were indeed from the heart – were seen as far more thoughtful than the cards!
Afterward, as I mused over the overwhelmingly positive reception the notes had garnered, I had to chuckle. I wished I had known this sooner; it would have saved me a lot of money, for one, but more important I would have touched more of my subordinates in a meaningful way.
Being a thankful person means three things to me:
– One, I am quick to thank others for helping me. The operative word here is “quick.” The effect of a “thank you” loses its emotional (and I would argue, spiritual) sweetness in time – just like a ripe tomato, left on the shelf day after day, soon turns moldy. If your “thank you” comes days or weeks late, the words lose their power – they become a meaningless afterthought.
– Two, I express thanksgiving in my daily prayers. The scriptures resound with this principle; here is just one of them, a favorite of mine:
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” (Psalm 100:4 NIV).
Think of it this way: Thanksgiving gets you in the door – and praise brings you into God’s presence.
Stu Johnson is the Executive Administrator for Grace International Churches and Ministries, Inc. Stu has extensive ministry experience as a conference speaker, youth pastor, college and career pastor, associate pastor, senior pastor, and district superintendent. He was also an Air Force officer for 30 years, retiring in 1999 as a Colonel. He has led organizations of 5 to 6,000 people. He has been married to Debbe for over 48 years and has 2 children, Andrew, a Vice Principal and Lisa, a medical doctor.