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Two Words That Will Change the Way You Look at People

This past Saturday some parent volunteers, students, my two youngest kids and I raked a couple yards in our community. One was a lady whom we did not know but was recently widowed and another was a lady from our church who is also a widow. There are only a few times I brag about some of the service work we do as a youth group and when we help widows and orphans that is high on my list of bragging.

It was tiring work but we finished the job and I thought nothing about it. The next morning at worship the announcement dude got up and read a card and it was from the lady in our church. Below is a snippet:

Thanks to Robbie, adult volunteers, the teenagers and the Mackenzie children for taking and hauling off the leaves in my yard yesterday. It meant a lot to me and I appreciate it so very much. All of you are doing a great job with the youth. Robbie, I’m so glad you are our youth minister.

As I heard him read this card tears began to build up in my eyes and I just felt so affirmed. All of the late nights, the long text messages, the deep conversations, the traveling to ball games, the meetings, planning sessions, trials and errors, two classes a week and a host of other things makes it worth it when you hear two special words:

Thank…

You…

We are in a season of thanksgiving and it is convenient to think about being thankful for people. It is inconvenient, however, to let someone know specifically that you are grateful for what they do.

For example, take the garbage man who visits your house once a week to transfer your week’s worth of trash to a safe location where it can biodegrade with the same trash from everyone else. That is not a very appealing job to me. The smells alone are enough for me to opt out of never wanting to do that job.

But it must be done.

If not then trash would go in the streets and eventually disease and other issues would arise. So garbage man (or woman if that is more PC)….thank you. I want to challenge you to move beyond the Facebook month of thankfulness and actually (and audibly) thank people by either calling them or meeting with them.

An interesting study was done on the effects of saying thank-you.

In the first study 69 participants were asked to provide feedback to a fictitious student called ‘Eric’ on his cover letter for a job application. After sending their feedback through by email, they got a reply from Eric asking for more help with another cover letter.

The twist is that half of them got a thankful reply from Eric and the other half a neutral reply. The experimenters wanted to see what effect this would have on participant’s motivation to give Eric any more help.

As you might expect, those who were thanked by Eric were more willing to provide further assistance. Indeed the effect of ‘thank you’ was quite substantial: while only 32% of participants receiving the neutral email helped with the second letter, when Eric expressed his gratitude, this went up to 66%. (Source)

All you have to say is, “I’m thankful for what you do.” Here are some people to thank….

  • Spouses
  • Parents
  • Thanking our kids
  • Ministers, Deacons, Elders (and their wives)
  • Teachers
  • Administrators
  • Utility Workers
  • City Officials
  • Veterans
  • Those currently in military
  • Nurses
  • Doctors
  • Receptionists
  • Post Office Worker
  • Janitors
  • Plumbers (and their crack J)
  • Tool Booth workers
  • Plane Pilots
  • Baristas
  • Fast Food workers
  • People who keep Pandora Radio running!

Do you see where I am getting at?

Look them straight in the eye and say, “I’m thankful for you.” John F. Kennedy once said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

Do it.