Imagine you’re making your acceptance speech at the Oscars. Who would you mention as the people who have made the most impact on your life? The ones you could say you owed it all to? Grab a pen and paper and start making that list.
Green: Go through your contacts list and send a quick text to those who bless your life by being in it. Mention one thing you are particularly grateful to them for. They may have no idea!
Amber: Which teacher, pastor, youth leader or former boss had the most impact on you? Find out how to contact them and say thank you for shaping your life through their kindness.
Red: If you could repay the favour, how would you do it? Perhaps that person used their skills, networks or resources to help you – how could you do the same for them in the future?
‘Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words.’ (2 Corinthians 9:15 NLT)
It’s one of the first things we teach our children: to say thank you.
It’s funny that we can use those same words whether someone has just passed us the ketchup, dropped us off at the station or given us a precious gift. Life gets busy and so although I do remember to say thank you for small gifts or acts of kindness, I don’t always take the time to express gratitude for when people have blessed me in deeper ways.
I was asked recently to think of the best gift that someone has given me, and I struggled to give an answer. But then I realised that I could remember the best gift givers rather than the gifts themselves. And what they gave wasn’t material gifts, but they gave their time and energy when it was costly to them.
There was one church leader in particular who was patient with me, who listened to my long questions about suffering and loss, and was honest and transparent in his answers. He encouraged me to think about what I wanted to do with my life but then left space for me to think things through. But he also took a risk on me. I now realise that his greatest gift to me was to show me that God could use me in ways that I didn’t imagine. In fact he still does that now.
Showing gratitude communicates how much we value the giver of the gifts we receive, and like a muscle in our body, the more we use it, the stronger it gets. Showing gratitude is also contagious. When someone spends time showing their appreciation to us, it sparks something inside us that wants to do the same.
So take some time out today to say thank you, to really say thank you to someone. And if you have been inspired to act after you’ve read these few words – you’re welcome!
Mark is on the leadership team at St James Muswell Hill. He was raised in North London, which does not explain why he’s a fan of Liverpool Football Club!
Today’s charity is: The Gratitude Initiative
The Gratitude Initiative seeks to encourage and promote a ‘gratitude culture’ in our personal and communal lives.