The holiday season is among us and the halls are all decked!
We are continuing our Professionalism mini-series. Why you ask? I’m convinced that we have somehow loss our understanding of common courtesies. These courtesies or personal etiquettes are reflections of ourselves. Most importantly, they reveal our willingness to honor and respect other people.
Today, we will focus our attention on two short—yet important—words, “Thank You.”
I was raised in South Carolina, so “Thank you” flows from people’s lips at grocery stores and restaurants. Even today, I am thankful for little acts of kindness like when someone holds the door open when leaving the store with a hand full of groceries. “Thank you” is what people say in my small town in North Carolina.
When I am in an airport or enter a new city, I am quickly reminded that I am not at home. The reminders are often accompanied by a rude act either directed at me or towards another stranger. In those moments, I wonder inwardly, “Why is it so difficult for people to respond with kindness?”
I’ve come up with two reasons:
- Our expectations are too high. There is a sense of selfishness—who I am and what I am doing is more important that what everyone else has going on—and entitlement that causes us to forget other people and their needs. The Creator God calls us to consider the needs of others higher than our own needs.
When our lives are centered on ourselves, we expect people to do for us and respond to us in a certain way that will keep us happy. When this high view of ourselves creates a high level of expectation from others, we don’t ponder the need to say “Thank you,” even when people respond in a way that is pleasing to us.
Here’s the reality: None of us has a right to other people’s kindness. At best, we can only hope for it. So when people are actually considerate, nice, and thoughtful, it would show proper etiquette if we responded in kind. The response can be two simple words, “Thank you.”
- Our gratitude is too low. My husband and I noticed that many stores moved “Black Friday” up this year to infringe on Thursday’s Thanksgiving dessert time. It’s as if we can’t give thanks quick enough before our covetous hearts are off buying the next thing that we don’t need.
Our accumulating list of the things we don’t have snuffs out our ability to express thanks for what we already have. We are not content. The lack of contentment is not just about material things, it also concerns our personal relationships and people interactions.
If a co-worker brings you a cup of coffee to work, or better yet, enters with a box of Krispy Kreme donuts to share, that’s a reason to give thanks to God for your co-worker, your job, and Krispy Kreme! If your spouse brings you the newspaper, buys a gift, or offers to pick up the dry cleaning, the proper response is “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” If a friend invites you over for dinner (home cooked meal or not), then you respond with a, “Thank you.” If you have a great time with anyone, say, “Thank you.” Let people know how much you appreciate their presence in your life.
If we take our eyes off the things we don’t have, and really think about the blessings we do have, we will all be more grateful people.
And how do we treat God?
I heard a sermon online a few weeks ago, and the pastor was talking about how we have gotten so used to God blessing us, that we often take his blessings and gifts for granted. So instead of saying, “Thank you,” our first response is, “Give me more.”
Anyone who is a parent can understand how painful it would be if we were working as hard as we could to give our children the best lives possible, and all they did was look up to us and say, “That’s it?” We would feel disrespected, and would probably go into a long lecture about their ingratitude. We dishonor God in the same way.
Let us learn the discipline of gratitude. Let us thank God for our lives, thank our family and friends for their presence in our lives, and appreciate what we already have. Think about sending a card or letter of gratitude this season. Let’s give thanks throughout the holidays and beyond.
A Thanksgiving Challenge:
This week make a list of 30 things you are thankful for.
When skimming social media last week, I saw a post that read, “If you only had today what you thanked God for yesterday, what would you have?”
What would you have?
Recommended Reading: One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by New York Times best seller, Ann Voskamp
My current devotion: Spirituality of Gratitude: The Unexpected Blessings of Thankfulness by Joshua Choonmin Kang
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson