Appreciation and Gratitude: It’s more than saying “Thank You”

Appreciation and Gratitude: It’s more than saying “Thank You”

We are thanked many times throughout the day, sometimes I think we have become immune to its effect, or it’s so subtle we don’t notice. We see these words on doors at malls, restaurants receipts; we are even thanked on bills for our prompt payment.  But how can these words help us improve our effectiveness in our roles as leaders at work, home or church?  What qualities make a good or effective leader? 

In studying leadership, you may find the top 10 qualities of leaders listed as honesty and integrity, confidence, inspiring others, commitment and passion, good communication, decision-making, accountability, delegation and empowerment, creativity and innovation, and empathy.  These qualities are needed for success in our personal, professional and spiritual lives; but, two qualities often neglected are appreciation and gratitude.  Appreciation and gratitude are used synonymously but function very differently.  Appreciation allows us to see and value the good in others. It recognizes our positive aspects and creates emotional connections between us.  French writer and philosopher, Voltaire says:

Appreciation and gratitude are used synonymously but function very differently.

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”

Gratitude is an expression of appreciation. The expression of thankfulness is usually for something that we have received or acquired, or for a situation that we have overcome. Gratitude begins with humility; recognizing that success is dependent on the efforts, sacrifices and contributions of others; especially God. 

By themselves, appreciation and gratitude might not make you a better leader; but the lack of appreciation and/or gratitude is often cited for reasons leader’s fail, contribute to people quitting and the breakup of relationships, and creating emotional distance. Gratitude research shows that “practicing gratitude enhances your managerial skills, enhancing your praise-giving and motivating abilities as a mentor and guide to the employees you manage.” It positively impacts our emotional, social, personality, career and health well-being.  The expression of gratitude requires, as Ralph W. Emerson said, that we:

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

Jesus was a master cultivator of gratitude.  Before raising Lazarus, Jesus gave thanks. Before feeding five thousand, He gave thanks. He gave thanks even when knowing He would soon be betrayed and crucified.  He gave thanks not only in obedience to God’s Word, but to express His appreciation for God’s goodness.  Jesus’ leadership model isn’t about bowing heads, reciting words, or giving praise or a song.  It is about aligning our spirit with God’s will so that our words and actions benefit others and glorify His name.  The Lead Like Jesus leadership model teaches that alignment is based on bringing focus to our Heart, Head, Hands and Habits.  Jesus’ leadership style goes beyond theory and moves us into practice by teaching that creating a climate of thankfulness:  

  1. Starts with giving thanks in all circumstances.  1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT) says:

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

Author Greg Simas reminds us that “the verse says that we are to give thanks “in” all circumstances NOT “for” all circumstances. The Bible never tells me to give thanks FOR injustice or loss but to give thanks IN them.  He states that “a biblically grateful and thankful person is someone who appreciates both how undeserving he/she is before God and how generous God is to them.“  

  1. Seek and find the good in everyone.  Leaders often focus on pointing out mistakes or flaws so they can be corrected; often neglecting the good that has been achieved.  Jesus looked beyond our flaws, focusing instead on our redemption and potential for goodness.  As leaders, we exert less energy and foster a climate of thankfulness when we find and reward the good in others.  Author and Christian psychotherapist, Alan L. McGinnis, explains:

“If you train your mind to search for the positive things about other people, you will be surprised at how many good things you can observe in them and comment upon.”

  1. Invite others to follow.  Allowing others to choose fosters a sense of control and increases their level of commitment.  Jesus certainly had the power to demand and even compel obedience; yet, He chose to invite His disciples to follow Him. Matthew 16:24 (CEV) tells us that Jesus said to His disciples:

    “If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me.”

  1. Develop others by showing them how it’s done.  Jesus didn’t just invite His disciples to make a choice, follow me or not.  He developed them by modeling the behaviors expected and providing opportunities for them to exercise these habits.

Jesus’ leadership framework ensures the alignment of our Heart, Head, Hands and Habits in a way that glorifies and pleases God.  How do we know they work?  God expressed His appreciation many times such as in Matthew 3:17 (GW):

Then a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love—my Son with whom I am pleased.”

I pray this season we take the opportunity to learn about Jesus’ principles and put them into practice.  I can’t think of a better way of showing appreciation and gratitude to God, can you? 

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Gilbert Camacho

Gilbert Camacho serves as President, Organizational Leadership Solutions, a management consulting firm, based in Melbourne, Florida.  Gilbert is a certified Lead Like Jesus Facilitator with extensive leadership experience in the private, public and non-profit sectors.  He has been a contributing author to the Lead Like Jesus Blog for almost 3 years writing monthly on such issues as servant leadership, accountability, trust and integrity.  Gilbert s a sought-after Speaker, Trainer, and Executive Coach.  Gilbert is a Registered Shared Neutral (Mediator) with the State Supreme Court of Georgia.  He recently retired an Associate Director for the Human Resources Office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.  Gilbert has been married to his best friend, Annie, for almost 40 years.  Together they have raised two beautiful daughters, Holley and Logan. 

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