I counted how many times I said thank you yesterday. I said 22 times. I said it to the person who cashed me out at Walmart, said it to my kid who asked if he could pray for me, said it to my wife when she got something for me. I say it all the time to family, friends and strangers. I’m sure you say it just as much as I do, and we say the word so much that I wonder if we have forgotten it’s power.
I recently listened to a podcast by Andy Stanley about gratitude, and like anything that man does, it sounds like he is top notch at showing his thankfulness. He writes thank you notes, calls people, points out successes. He understands his platform, and uses it to maximize it when thanking people. When his co-laborers get a thank you card from him, it makes their year, and usually ends up in a frame or perched on their bookshelf. And of course listening to him talk about how to thank people motivated me to do more. I went out and bought myself a box of thank you cards and some stamps and started writing a note everyday I’m at my desk.
As I listened to Andy Stanley share it sparked some deeper thinking. I started to realize ALL the people who are a part of making my life successful. We had a church service yesterday. I counted 6 different people on stage during the service, all doing their very best to make our service great. There were 6 different people behind the scenes, on sound, graphics and food set up. We had a person volunteer to come in and organize our sanctuary. 3 different adults were spending time with our kids downstairs (They have the hardest job by far!), and probably 5 more people I’m totally forgetting. And that’s just a single service. I really began to think about all the people involved that are making our church great and was shocked by how many people are on my “team”.
And what about the people that aren’t in leadership, or serving in major roles, but are loyal, those that come week after week. Those loyal, faithful folks that are there rain, snow, sleet or shine. They return the following week even if they didn’t like the message, or don’t really care for the worship that seems to be getting louder and flashier every week. They come back, they invite their friends, they mingle and work the room saying hi to everyone. The people who give their critique of what you do whether you like it or not (Let’s be thankful for their honest feedback even if it doesn’t pet our ego). What about the nursery worker that hasn’t missed her week since she started, covered in throw up… and other stuff. Don’t forget about that old, out of touch youth worker that isn’t hip, cool, or trendy but is there for every youth service, conference and event, and all the teens secretly love them because they know where to go for gentle love and encouragement.
I began to realize that any success I stumble on is because of so many more people than just me, or even my closest team members. That my success runs deep, deeper than I realize. Sure I can get frustrated with people in my church or ministry. Sure their fickle and opinionated, but maybe they voice their opinion because they want you to succeed, maybe they see your ministry or church as THEIR church or ministry too. Maybe instead of calling it “My” church, “My” youth group, you should start calling it “Our _________”, because the success of your organization is about more than just you. Even if you had the greatest sermon, worship set, event or conference in the universe, you still need people to help, to attend, and to criticize it, yes I said criticize. Because there is always room for improvement.
So when you go out and buy your Thank You Notes why not start with someone really deep in your organization who you’d normally forget about. How about the kid who comes late, sits in the corner and answers all your questions with one word answers, or your harshest critic. Because they’re all part of your success, and they’ve stuck wth you through all your failures. You work hard, you put in lots of time, thought and passion into what you’re doing. But you wouldn’t be where you’re at if it weren’t for other people. People at the top of your organization, but those deep down the org chart too.
Don’t forget about those people when it comes to gratitude. Take a minute and think about someone deep in your organization who you can send a thank you note, a text, or even better a phone call. That would really shock the old lady who sits in the back. Who knows where your ministry would be without her...
Mike Wing is the Lead Pastor of Lockport Christian Church. His amazing wife’s name is Amber and he has 3 awesome boys. Abram and Eli & Jadon are twins. He’s had the privilege of living in Lockport, NY for over 10 years and is really excited to see God bringing new businesses and buildings in the city and town where he lives. He has a huge passion to see community built within his church and believes the best thing about his church are the people in it, and seeing them grow in relationship with God and each other.
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