Friday, September 16, 2016

Where your treasure is: Don't say "thank you"

By Rev. Phyllis P. Bowers
Executive Director United Methodist Stewardship 

Don’t. Don’t write a thank you note.

Don’t write a thank you note if you are doing it to influence more giving. Don’t write a thank you note if you are doing it because it is expected of you. Don’t write a thank you note if you think it takes away from the reward the giver will be given in heaven.

One of the weakest areas in church leadership is the thank you. It is ironic that the most grace-filled people should feel too awkward or too busy or too lost for words to say those two simple ones. The current custom is to thank someone with a text, an email, or in person. Why would anyone need the outdated handwritten card? This misses the point. The thank you isn’t for them. And it isn’t for you.

We thank each other here and now for the tangible things we give, and the ways we serve, to learn how to thank God for the intangible, unmeasurable miracles, even if we never really can say thank you enough. Gratitude keeps us from forgetting whose we are, though. Gratitude keeps us from spiritual blindness and self-congratulatory pride. Gratitude helps us persevere. Thank you cards are the very shields we build to strengthen our community and our commitment.

Don’t write a thank you note. Pray first. Whatever it is that was given, thank God for this and thank him for the giver. Take a moment to consider the cost that you can’t see wrapped in the offering. Count the blessing that God connected that gift to a use and a future in which you are part of as a witness. Appreciate the trust demonstrated through what was given. Believe that those things or actions will bring God’s kingdom closer with his help. Recognize the hope that was shared in this gift and pray that it would heal brokenness. Reflect on the unseen effect this offering will have and the sacrifice that brought it here. Realize how little you know of the time it represents in work and faith and love. Pray that the giver is assured that God knows.

Don’t write a thank you note if you can’t see that a thank you is to be given as joyfully as the gift. Don’t write a thank you note if you are seeing any smallness in the amount instead of the mustard seed ready to grow. Don’t write a thank you note until … until you see the giver as the hands and feet of Jesus and gratitude becomes another way to love others more than yourself.

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