The Work of Thank You

By Rebecca Johnston

 

My life is spent changing hats right now. One moment I’m a full-time mom. The next I’m a church planter. Change hats again and I’m an executive assistant (my non-church job). My mom hat teaches me a lot about life and leadership in ways I wasn’t expecting as time with my son teaches me about myself. One of the things my husband and I have started working on early is for my son to say thank you when he gets something he wanted. His vocabulary is small right now, but thank you comes through in baby sign. He does it in his own way. Thank you just recently changed from looking like he was blowing everyone kisses to being something that looks more like American Sign Language. He has also started vocalizing thank you. It’s cavemanish, but it’s coming along.

My son didn’t start saying thank you because he felt like it. It’s through blood, sweat and tears. We say thank you all the time with him.

Here’s that snack buddy, say thank you.

Oh, buddy, thank you for giving me that wet tissue.

Ok, I gave you Blankie, now you say thank you.

Oh my, thank you for helping me do the dishes, let me just go get the mop.

As a family we have actively pursued the art of teaching our son to say thank you. I’m not sure saying thank you means much to him yet. There are times thank you seems to mean give me that. It happens while he is snatching the cookie from the table and shoving it into his mouth without permission. It’s a work in progress.

The outflow of thank you from leader to those they lead is something that takes work but it’s worth it. Thank you changes the atmosphere of a room. Thank you sets people up for success. Thank you let’s people know they are seen and what they do is valuable. All things I am starting to feel when my son acknowledges me with a thank you without being prompted. Volunteers do what they do for zero compensation and thank you is a significant way to invest in people who are giving their time to the areas you lead.

It’s taken me 18 months to get my son to a place where he says thank you without me prompting him. When I look back it has taken me just as much time, or maybe even more, to get myself to a place of saying thank you to those I lead without being prompted. Without having to struggle to remember. Without having to set a reminder. Without having to hurt someone because I didn’t positively acknowledge their contribution.

I don’t naturally think everyone is just super, optimism and gratitude are character traits I’m working on cultivating in my life. It is taking work, it is taking time, it is taking determination. Cultivating my own thank you attitude is very much like the work I’ve done with my son. I could have given up when at 12 months old, after a year of working on thank you, he still wasn’t very good at it. Or now, after 18 months, he still isn’t excellent at saying thank you when I compare him to an adult. So I’ll measure him against himself and he is doing fantastic.

Measure yourself against yourself, if you are terrible about saying thank you then take a baby step and do something simple to show appreciation. If you are decent at it, push a little harder to grow and make your thanks generous. If you are very good at saying thank you move toward extravagance in your gratitude. And if you are incredible at making people feel appreciated, give me a call because I need some more pointers.

 

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The Preacher Girls are honored to have Rev. Rebecca Johnston blogging for us!  Rebecca is an ordained Assemblies of God minister currently church planting in Indianapolis, Indiana with her family!

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