Estimated Read Time: 4 minutes –

Jesus was very thankful, and he often expressed it with explicit words.  In John 11:41-42, Jesus thanked God for listening to him.  He shows gratitude toward the father.  He is thankful that the father always listens to him, but he is expressing special gratitude for a particular circumstance in which God listened to him and intervened in front of a large crowd such that they would know that he was for the father.

Jesus was humble, even when the truth was that he didn’t have to be.  He gave praise and thanks to God when it was due.  Jesus also gave thanks to God for giving him the disciples (Peter, John, James, etc.).  Jesus had a heart that was full of thanks and gratitude, and he was also very careful to direct such thanks in the right direction.

Great leaders have grateful, thankful hearts.  They know that they are not to receive credit.  They give credit to God and the people that God has sent to them.  It’s really that simple.  The absence of such gratefulness will generate pride, arrogance.

If you walk into a typical business meeting (executive or otherwise), and pose the question, “Who here is thanked too much for their hard work?”, I can almost guarantee you will hear nothing.  In other words – complete silence.

Try and think about that for yourself.  Have you ever felt “over-thanked?”  I bet not.  But, I do bet that you have felt unappreciated.  We all have.  And, that doesn’t feel good.  It’s hard to follow someone that doesn’t appreciate our contribution.  

I very much appreciate and am grateful for my own family, friends, and the people I work with.  I mean, it’s pretty obvious.  And, I am sure it is obvious to them.

Well, that’s what I used to think (and sometimes still fall into that trap), and I was very wrong.  It’s hard to even think about it now.  I have realized how ungrateful I have been to people that I, in fact, am very grateful for (and they didn’t know it).

Why didn’t they know it?  Because I didn’t tell them enough!

Here is the truth:  People don’t know you appreciate them unless you show them.  This is easiest done through words, but your actions mean a lot as well.  Gratefulness can be expressed in many ways.

Now, I can’t believe I am going to admit this, but I actually used to put on my to-do list to show appreciation to at least one person a week.  Looking back I have to laugh at that.  I had a problem showing gratitude, so the problem was just to make it a task.

If your heart is grateful, you don’t need to remember to thank people for things. You are so often overwhelmed with the feelings of gratefulness, that you are compelled to show your gratitude.  No need for an outlook reminder!

Everyone has their own styles of how to show appreciation, and most people are good at recognizing that.  So, it’s important to remember two things:

  1. Authentic gratefulness comes from a grateful heart.
  2. People don’t know you are grateful unless you communicate it to them.

Note that #1 is “Authentic” gratefulness.  Fake gratefulness can work against you, so don’t play that game.  If you can’t show authentic gratefulness, work on your heart.  The rest will naturally follow.

Here is one more fact that I am hoping is very intuitive to you – when people don’t feel appreciated, they become inanimate.  Think about how you like to be treated.  And, the types of leaders you like to follow or have had pleasure following in the past.  A leader that has inanimate people will fail.  Period.  Leaders need followers to achieve their mission.  Jesus made this crystal clear throughout his ministry.  Without the spreading of the gospel (“good news”), the teachings would die, and his mission would have failed.  Jesus ensured that his followers were passionate and motivated to carry out the mission.

Do you question that people need acceptance and appreciation?  Do you agree that we are wired this way?  I bet you do.

People yearn for attention and appreciation.  This is such a primitive desire that people will even act out in negative ways just to try and get some attention.

As a leader, don’t be afraid to show love and appreciation for your team.  Of course, I don’t condone inappropriate “love” or shows of affection in the workplace, so use prudent discretion.  But, don’t withhold it.  Don’t think that it will make people “comfortable” or “unmotivated”.  An argument I have heard is that people will ask for a raise if you give them too much praise.  That’s ridiculous.  If they feel like they deserve a raise and are confident to ask for one, then that means something is going right and they feel like they are really adding value.  Show them your appreciation and show it often.  Surely there will be times for correction, but make those times brief and to the point.  And, don’t withhold recognition when it is due.  You need to have balance.  Do this until people start telling you that they feel over-appreciated.

There is no person that ever walked the Earth that deserves more of our gratitude than Jesus.  In return, this man showed us how to be truly and authentically grateful, both by his words and his actions.  He had a grateful heart that made his gratitude very real and very sincere.  A grateful heart will lead towards natural gratitude to the people that deserve it.  Leaders that understand this and embrace it will have teams that are passionate, creative, and motivated.

Leaders could learn a lot by studying and following the example of Jesus’ grateful heart.

Dan Lucas
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