Monday, November 19, 2007

Wisdom from a friend ...

I was raised in a family where we were not just taught, but were expected to use words like Please and Thank you as a regular part of our conversation.

For example, I still, even as a parent will ask to be excused from the table by saying, "May I please leave the table?"

When I make a phone call I will say to the one who answers the phone: "May I please speak to ..."

I will ask for something to be passed at the table by saying, "Please pass the ..." and respond to the action by saying "Thank you."

I say "thank you" when I am in a store, and we have taught our children to use the same words ... I will never be convinced that it is a bad thing.

Yesterday when I read the posting over at The Laughing Pastor reflecting on the importance of the two simple words - "Thank you" I realized how true his words are. He reflects on the need for churches to say those words as part of their ethos and ministry. It's a posting that caused me to say - "AMEN!!!"

But today as I spent time in reflection over LP's words, I realized that even though I agree with EVERYTHING written there, I don't think he went far enough ...

Thank you can't just be spoken - it must be lived, and in the modern church we have become pathetic at saying much less living those words ...

I know in the core of my being the yearning to hear those two simple words spoken.

I can remember the devastation of NOT hearing those words when there was a fund raising concert held in town in the wake of the fire and everyone else was thanked ... The next day I was phoned with a sort of apology that only rubbed salt in my deep wounds ... the lack of those two simple words left me a wreck.

Looking back I know that my vulnerability was my own creation, but it does not justify NOT saying "thank you" when it was deserved:

Following the fire 16 to 20 hour days were common for WEEKS after ... phone calls, emails, interviews, visits, moving office stuff, cleaning, just being present - the list of tasks was ENORMOUS and seemingly unending - and yet I wasn't even given any extra time off - in truth I was getting NO TIME OFF. The weeks subsequent to the fire ranged between 80 and 100 hours of work, while the part time office staff was being paid OVER-TIME for every minute of work done over the regular hours ... Then at the concert lavish thanks were doled out to many people, including the office staff and my name was left off the list ...

The reply when I asked later was - "OH, you're paid staff. We shouldn't have to thank you!!"

If that had been a one off incident I could have handled it better. But two years previously following a sizable basement renovation the same thanks were missed ... The plumbers, electricians, contractors, architect AND volunteers were rightly thanked at a dinner celebrating the reopening of the newly renovated hall, the paid staff were forgotten ...

The sad thing in hindsight is that at THAT time, the same excuse was offered - "Oh you're paid staff. We shouldn't have to thank you ..."

"Hmmm," I mused then, AND now, "so were the plumbers, the electricians, contractors, architect, AND the "project manager". Yet YOU thanked them, AND gave them free tickets to the dinner ..."

I never did get an answer, or an apology for THAT ... and last year I have yet to hear an apology for the insults that came when I pointed out the neglect I had experienced ... The "you're paid staff" excuse lost all credibility when the summer supply for my leave was thanked, AND paid ... and it was pointed out in the review document as a glaring short-coming.

Reading LP's words yesterday brought me back to the realization of how important hearing the words "thank you" periodically can be ... I hear them all the time from people around me - the people I worked with ... Last night at Co-op I had one of my former soccer boys stop me and apologize for what is happening to me and then putting his arm around me gave me a hug and said the words: "I just want to say 'thank you' for everything you've done for me ... I have really appreciated it!!"

In that moment I heard words that my heart has yearned to hear ... words I have heard from many corners - but words that have been lacking from the places they NEED to be uttered ...

So, my thanks to Laughing Pastor for raising a matter that is anything but a laughing one ... This is a serious issue ... the words of our lips are a reflection of our hearts and our souls. If we fail to utter the simple words - "thank you" when they deserve to be spoken, our hearts and our souls are not living in a place of gratitude ... and in the Church that is NEVER acceptable.

Now is the time to speak and live the words ... and the best place to begin is here ...

To those who have touched my life with kindness, love and care I can only offer two words that should have been shared long ago - THANK YOU!!!!

Maybe the people who need to hear this will finally listen and begin by offering two other words that are almost as important: "I'M SORRY!" and then will step up to the plate and begin speaking and living those other two words that are NOT an optional part of our faith journey ...

I have faith enough to believe that one day it WILL happen ... until then, I will keep saying the words "Thank you" when they are due ... It does the heart good to see the face of a clerk at a grocery store lighten in response ...

1 comment:

new road seeker said...

In my experience, a singled out leader who is not being thanked is a leader with issues.
Either the relationship is so damaged that thanks will not come, or their will be a catharsis when the truth will come out.

The one thing I do not see on your blog, (maybe I haven't looked deeply enough) is the humility and self questioning of where you may be at fault for this attitude.

Deep self learning is often uncomfortable as we face our less than perfect record and choices.

Without the search, we continue to live half lives in lies never finding out truth and growing.

Are you strong and committed enough Shawn?

Things I think about...

Sallie