You Didn’t Get Here By Yourself: Thanking those who helped you along the way

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Hebrews 13:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

I often look back at my life and am amazed at the journey God has taken me on. I know there are ministers more qualified to do what I do, but God’s grace and the leaders who believe in me have carried me to where I am today. That’s why I feel it’s important to show thankfulness to leaders who have influenced me and given me the opportunities I have. It keeps me grounded, and I have the chance to encourage those who have made a difference in my life.

This past winter, I had the opportunity to invite Jude Fouquier to be the featured speaker at our annual youth conference. Jude is a youth pastor’s youth pastor, and I think one of the greatest to ever pastor this generation. I was able to express to him my thanks for the influence he had on my life as I was growing up. I am partly who I am today because of him. Not only that, I was able to show him how his influence on me was impacting the Minneapolis area through my ministry. It can be like a boost of spiritual adrenaline to realize you are making a difference beyond the four walls within which you minister.

Though not a comprehensive list, here are some practical ways you can show thankfulness to your leaders or influencers:

• This one’s a tough one—say it. Don’t ever underestimate the power of an email or text expressing your gratitude to your leaders. I will often let my lead pastor know that I’m thankful to be on his team. Every so often, I’ll text some of my former bosses and thank them. They made a difference and opened doors for me, and I’m reminded of that from time to time and want them to know that I’m grateful.
• Be specific. When you tell your leader that you’re thankful for him (or her), be specific. It’s easy to be generic. Letting your leader know why you are thankful takes it to the next level and presents a way to lead up by positively reinforcing the good he is doing.
• Show you are thankful by working hard. Your actions speak louder than words. Lead and work hard everyday, even when your leader isn’t watching. Don’t take advantage of your leader’s trust.
• Go above and beyond. Roger Staubach once said, “There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.” Do more than what’s required. Maintain excellence even in the small things. If it would be a blessing, take something off your leader’s plate. Just being willing speaks volumes.
• Honor them publicly when given the opportunity. Many of us have opportunities to speak on the weekends or in other venues. It’s vital that you thank your pastor for giving you the opportunity to speak on his behalf. It may seem like a small gesture, but whenever I speak at church or conference, the first thing I do is honor and thank my pastor, whether he’s there or not.
• Purchase an inexpensive gift. Write something kind, and find a way to make it personal. Pay attention to what blesses your pastors and influencers. It’s not about the dollar amount, it’s about the thought.

What would you add to this list? How have you shown thankfulness to your leaders and pastors?

-Justyn

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