Slowing Down To Say Thanks

Jeff General, Gratitude

“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” –1 Thessalonians 5:18

I have a very simple thought for this Monday. It is spoken of so often in Christian circles that you might be tempted to pass over it because there is no novelty attached to it. I’m pondering the high call of the believer to be grateful. I regularly check my heart’s attitude on a number of subjects, and sometimes discover that I have a deep need to stop taking certain things for granted. One of the worst character traits that can find us is our pitiful propensity for being presumptuous. Atop my short list of pet peeves is the attitude of entitlement and presumption. The presumptuous heart can easily cultivate an ongoing sense of entitlement, and eventually fall into the deep and dark pit of pride. I feel that God has blessed me with the ability to detect this trait in myself and, occasionally, others. As we approach the end of this year, I am checking my own heart again to see if my ongoing distractions, deadlines, duties or difficulties left me susceptible to this fault over the last twelve months. My conclusion? I could have done better at pursuing gratitude as a close companion.

So what will be my remedy to help ensure it does not snare me in 2018? I will be aggressively gracious and grateful. I’ll be working on a kinder, gentler me — something akin to JeffLyle 4.1.

Here’s someone to whom I owe thanks. I didn’t know Wallace Reid until late December of 2010. In fact, I discovered him only by doing a Google search for a local photographer. We were redesigning our Transforming Truth website, and I was told by the developer that I needed a set of headshots to go with the new design. I thought the old ones were fine, and I dug in my heels at getting new ones because I didn’t want to invest time or money in a studio session which produced shots of a chubby white man with a receding hairline. Nevertheless I ended up giving heed to the counsel of the professional and started my search for a photographer. Google introduced me to Wallace Reid and his photography studio in nearby Duluth, Georgia. He immediately accommodated my request to get the session in within a few days of my call. Wallace came in on his off-day when the studio is closed and took great patience with me as we went through the awkward task (for me) of posing in front of a camera in various forms of attire (the lime green tu-tu and the American Flag biker shorts pics didn’t make the cut). I was getting nervous when I realized how many shots I was going to need to buy to submit to the web developer, and Wallace graciously went over the fee schedule with me as we settled on five particular photos. I never mentioned to him that I was reluctant to go through the process in the first place, due to my discomfort at being photographed and the additional concern over stewarding ministry money. Wallace wrote up the receipt and then wrote the word ‘COMP’ and circled it. Unfamiliar with what he meant, I withdrew my wallet and got ready to bite the bullet and pay. He indicated that payment would be unnecessary this time, and graciously informed me that this session was on him. Wallace was a fellow believer and wanted to help this ministry by investing his time and abilities to be a blessing to me. He did something nice for a stranger. He asked me to pray for him and his business (which I did) and, with no fanfare at all, he walked me outside as we both went our separate ways. We have not spoken since that day but, for some reason, Wallace’s kindness to me still embeds itself in my mind. I was grateful for his kindness. I really sense the need to be grateful for every kindness that finds me.

May God grant us the ability not to gloss over acts of generosity from which we benefit. Whether it be my wife and children showing me love, good friends who invite me to lunch and pick up the tab, New Bridge’s staff allowing me time to quietly study and pray, a Transforming Truth donor sending a timely contribution to the ministry, or a person unknown to me firing off an email that reveals that they prayed for me…may it never go unappreciated or undervalued in my heart. I ask you to consider thinking along these lines in your own life. Guard tenaciously against presumption, entitlement and ingratitude – they are three foxes that will eat your grapes. Convey gratitude to people as often as you can; folks around you need to know that they are valued. Communicate appreciation to those who will be shocked to know that you thought of them today. Look for the Wallace Reids in your life today and tell them that they made a difference.