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A little gratitude…

It’s that time of year, isn’t it? You know… the avalanche of gratitude. This is the season where we make a point of expressing our thankfulness for all our blessings: family, friends, shelter, food, Jesus, salvation, the church, and so on. It’s not that I think this is inappropriate–my family traditionally shares something for which we are each especially grateful as we gather around the table at Thanksgiving. … But are we as focused on an “attitude of gratitude” from January through October?

Recently my husband was sharing some frustrations about his job, one of which is that he rarely gets any encouragement, much less an expression of gratitude. Case in point: a recent conversation in which his supervisor pointed out that my husband’s department only ranked third in the region, yet the department actually sold significantly more of a top-line product than during the previous year. What a difference it would have meant for my husband to hear, “Wow, Dave! You and your team did a great job increasing top-line product sales.” Knowing that you are never recognized for what you have accomplished makes it difficult some days to go to work.

As I listened, I couldn’t help contrast his situation with my own. In my church staff role, my pastor regularly expresses his gratitude for my ministry. Nothing fancy; no big hoopla. He simply interjects into a conversation that he appreciates my help… and that makes me smile.

I also work part-time at a local quilt shop. Not a week goes by that my manager fails to tell me that she is grateful for me. Most of the time, it’s specific–“thank you for all you do with our website, ” or “you put together beautiful fabrics for that customer’s quilt.” Often it’s said in front of a patron. No matter how hectic the day has been, I go home knowing that I am appreciated.

Getting up and going to work–whether it’s at church or at the quilt shop–is rarely a struggle for me. I feel valued in both roles. My husband, on the other hand, has to fight each day to maintain a positive attitude for himself and for his team.

Perhaps this is the season to take an objective look at the attitudes of your team members. Is anyone grumbling? Who “no-shows” on their day to serve? When is the last time you encouraged them with gratitude? Not the generic expressions of appreciation as one among many. No, something more specific and personal. Something that says, “I value you as an individual; your unique service is vital to our ministry as a whole.” No big hoopla, just a well-spoken word.

Reality check: You have good intentions, but you get busy and forget, right? Set a reminder on your calendar, post a sticky note, write it on your bathroom mirror, tie a string around your finger… whatever you need to do to remind yourself of this most important equipping value. Say “thank you” sincerely and often. A little gratitude offered regularly can yield joy-filled service and fruitful ministry!

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P.S. One of the blessings that I’m most grateful for this year is you! Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I know it’s valuable time out of your day, and I pray that you find encouragement for your ministry in return for your investment of time. Have a joyful Thanksgiving!

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