An Overlooked Strategy That Creates Raving Fans and Good FriendsBy
Last week I was in the midst of one of those questioning times. I periodically wonder if what I’m communicating really is helping people. I want to maximize my life. So I was reexamining.
I received a phone call on Tuesday afternoon at my office. My secretary told me the name which sounded vaguely familiar. So I took the call.
When I answered he said, “This is Larry (giving his last name). I don’t know if you remember me but I went to seminary with you in Chicago.”
“Ok, I do remember you now,” I responded.
He went on, “The reason I’m calling is to thank you, 40 years late. I’ve thought about trying to get a hold of you for 40 years to thank you for something that you’re probably not even aware of.”
“Ok,” I said.
“You spoke at chapel in seminary one morning and at that service you clearly gave a message on the way to have a personal relationship with God. It changed my life. And out of that it completely changed the course of my ministry. For forty years I’ve wanted to thank you.”
“Not only that, but in that liberal seminary it took guts to get up and say what you did knowing the ridicule you’d receive. And that gave me courage to live that way as well.”
“So I finally looked you up on the internet just to say thank you.”
I was taken aback. I told him, “I don’t even remember the chapel service. But it’s so gracious of you to call after all this time. I really do appreciate it.”
We chatted for a while longer about where our journeys had taken us and finally hung up.
I’m still pondering the experience. But it reminded me how often our lives touch others in ways we may never know. They may never tell us yet it will change the course of their life.
And also how powerfully encouraging the words, “Thank you” truly are.
I recently read a post by Don Miller in which he said, “There’s something inherently powerful in saying thank you to somebody. Most good deeds go unnoticed, and when we notice them, especially a year of them or a decade of them, and finally send a card, it goes a long way in encouraging the people around us.”
What a powerful concept for encouraging others and in the process building raving fans and good friends.
We all start out with our dreams.
We want to accomplish great things. Yet, life is filled with detours and challenges that change our course in so many ways. It’s easier to give up than press on.
Yet, often we never know who we’re impacting. Whose life we are changing. We don’t know who’s watching. If we did it would change our lives and encourage us on to greater achievements.
So taking the time to say thanks is a powerful catalyst for positive change and encouragement of others. And it often comes back to us in multiples.
The apostle Paul, as he wrote his letters, often began by telling his friends how thankful he was for them.
In one he wrote, “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints.” (Colossians 1:3-4 NIV)
What a powerful message to tell someone you are thankful for them.
It reminded me to be more proactive in thanking others.
Often the best way is to say thanks right now when someone has blessed you. Think about becoming a constant encourager. Look for opportunities to say, “Thank you.” In fact stop right now and think about who’s day you could brighten.
Where I struggle most with this though is with family. It’s easy to take the extra efforts of our loved ones for granted. After a great meal I don’t often enough say thank you to my wife or daughter going out of their way to fix it. I need to get better about that. What it does in a relationship is almost magical.
We can carry this over into business as well, as Don Miller spoke about. Saying thank you to our customers, employees or boss is tremendously powerful. Particularly when they have done something that really makes our day. Becoming a person who appreciates the extra effort they give will fill our lives with even more.
Writing thank you notes is powerful as well. Email is fine but there’s something special about writing a thank you note on a nice card and mailing it. It says you appreciate that person enough to take the time, in a special way, to say thank you. I’m amazed at how that touches people.
I don’t know for sure why saying, “thanks,” is so hard. Often for me I’m caught up in my own world so I don’t think about it. It’s not that I don’t care or don’t appreciate the concern someone else gave me. My mind is just off on something else.
So for me what helps is to keep coming back to focusing on who really is in charge of my life. Trusting God is there and taking care of my needs helps release me from the tyranny of only focusing on myself. It sets me free to be a person who can concentrate on the moment and appreciate the care someone else is giving.
Paul goes on in the passage we read above and says, “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.” (Colossians 1:5-6, NIV)
When I understand and rest in God’s love and grace it produces that fruit in me as well. When I realize how much God loves me and I relax in that love it frees me from the tyranny of worry. Then I can focus on those around me and the love they are sharing with me. And that produces powerful fruit in my life. One of which is appreciation for the ones God sends along my path.
So if I haven’t told you, “Thanks for reading and being my friend. And thanks to you who have written. Your encouragement is truly appreciated.”
And to Larry, “Thanks for your forty year belated thanks. It was right on time.”
Who needs a thank you from you today?”
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