"Thanks A Lot!"

"Thanks A Lot!"

“Now that everyone is on board, we have just a few disclaimers we want to share. There may be times when we have to readjust our landing to avoid power lines. Also if the landing area is rough and the wind is too strong, you will need to hang on tight in case the basket is dragged across the ground. But don’t worry! I’m sure we’ll have a great ride with no problems.”

My in-laws looked over to where we were waving them off on their hot air balloon ride, the family Christmas gift we had chosen for them that year. I couldn’t hear my mother-in-law above the roar of the heater, but there was no question about her feelings when her mouth formed a sarcastic, “Thanks a lot!”

“Why should I give thanks?” I hear that so often from people who follow it up with “After all, they’re just doing their job, what’s expected of them.” These are also the people who have a hard time giving a sincere thank you. It’s almost like they’re struggling to pull the words out of their mouths!

So much of leadership, unfortunately, carries with it an attitude of faultfinding and criticism. Much research has focused on which works better: positive or negative reinforcement. Whole books on parenting discuss this. It’s the old honey versus vinegar argument. The results consistently show that people are much more motivated when they are thanked rather than criticized.

Certainly there is a place for correction. We’ve all seen what happens when bad behavior is overlooked, when there are no consequences. But if criticism is the constant response, accompanied by silence when things are going smoothly, the atmosphere becomes tense and there is no joy. This is especially true when talents and accomplishments are overlooked or unappreciated.

When we fail to acknowledge and appreciate people’s efforts, it seems that all of our comments become layered with criticism. Our children, our spouse, our employees, our team members will certainly be muttering under their breath, “Thanks a lot.”

But when we are cultivating an atmosphere of thankfulness, when appreciation is commonly expressed, we will hear, from every corner, heartfelt thanks, again and again. It elevates our enthusiasm, creativity, and desire for excellence.

Giving thanks goes deeper than just showing appreciation. It goes to the source of “All that I am and ever hope to be” as Andrae Crouch says in his song, “My Tribute.” He concludes with the recognition: “I owe it all to Thee!”

King David knew this was true three thousand years before that song was written. When he prayed over his people, he gave thanks to the Lord God (1 Chronicles 29:13). But he also recognized his leadership role, his leadership example. He knew that he wasn’t the one responsible for what he and the people had been blessed with. He knew he should lead by example with his acknowledgement of the generosity of God: “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand” (1 Chronicles 29:14).

This goes beyond an “attitude of gratitude.” To me it is a “life of thankfulness” that I strive for each day. It is in the prayer I begin my morning with, thanking my Lord Jesus for family and friends, neighbors and relatives, and the opportunity to serve Him and minister to His people. Thanking Him for the people He’s put into my life that I am called to lead.

When we recognize where our blessings truly come from, we can be generous with our praise, our thanks, and our joy with others.

And when we recognize that our Lord Jesus is the source not only of those gifts, but also our ability to use them, to grow them, to benefit from them and to benefit others with them … then we are humbled enough to give Him the glory. We can sincerely say, “Thanks a lot!”

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Christine Vogelsang

Christine Vogelsang is a teacher, musician, pastor’s wife, and mother of three adult children. For almost forty years her family enjoyed the love of congregations in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Southern California. She has earned her master’s degree in education, taught at various schools (from kindergarten to college) and served as music director for twenty-five years at their last church.

While writing and speaking about the joy of being God’s child has always been a part of her life, it wasn’t until her weekly inspirational blogs (restoringthejoy.net) gained an international following that Christine decided to publish her first book. She has also written and produced three plays about people and events in the Gospels that bring these ancient stories to life.

Christine and her husband have retired from full time church work; however, her blog ministry continues to grow. She recently completed her Restoring the Joy: Leaving My Guilt at the Cross book series (available through Amazon) and is scheduling more speaking engagements that highlight her spiritual passion: joy without guilt!

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