Saying ‘Thank You’

February 14, 2013

So I was talking to my dog the other night(doesn’t everyone?), and I was telling her that although she got a head start on our daughter in her development, Evelyn is catching her and will soon pass her. 

Murphy, the dog, and Evelyn, the child, are pretty close in age. Of course the dog started walking earlier, obeying commands earlier, and was potty trained earlier. But Evelyn is now walking, saying some words, using sign language to communicate, and the potty trained part isn’t too far off in the future. 

So how does the relate to generosity? I don’t know. Wait, I remembered. As they grow and learn, we have to do certain things to encourage them both to behave the way that we believe is best. Most of the time that means affirming positive behaviors, sometimes that means disciplining the bad behaviors. But the affirming part is way more fun, and I think more effective. 

The same is true in our churches. How best do we encourage those behaviors that lead to more mature Christians and help the Kingdom and our church grow? And specifically in the area of generosity. 

Too often we take on the discipline approach. “Our budget is down and we really need people to step up and cover the difference,” you might hear a pastor say. Or, “We are challenging you to put God to the test and see what He will do for you if you tithe this month.” Neither of those are bad things at all. In fact being honest with your finances, and challenging your people is a big part of leading in the area of generosity. 

But why don’t we hear more thank you’s? Why don’t we encourage the positive more. Andy Stanley says, “What’s rewarded will get repeated.” Furthermore Stanley gives four ways to make our thank you’s more impactful. Here they are…

1. Be specific. When you say thank you, include details. There is a huge difference between saying thanks and saying thanks followed by a detailed description of what you caught, saw, or are aware the other person was doing.

2. Be public. Over the years we have learned the value of story telling–the value of spending a few minutes in front of your leaders telling success stories that communicate vision, but more importantly, express gratitude. Public gratitude expresses a high level of value and can result in an even higher level of loyalty.

3. Be aware. You have to develop a mindset that looks for behavior to reward. Listen for stories two or three levels away in your organization and call or write to say thank you. Even though you didn’t observe the act, you communicate, “I didn’t see it, but somebody else saw it and they are talking about it. What you did is significant.”

4. Be honest. Don’t say you liked something you didn’t. Remember, what gets rewarded gets repeated. Also, don’t attribute something to someone that she didn’t really do. Rather than being encouraging and motivating, you’re communicating that you really weren’t paying attention. So when you say thank you, be honest and don’t overdo it.

Obviously this way of saying thank you extends far beyond financial generosity, it encourages an entire culture of generosity and permeates every aspect of your church. 

So in 2013, why not spend more time on the front end encouraging and affirming the positive behaviors. Hopefully by doing that, you’ll be doing less disciplining towards the end of the year. 



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