I love this time of year. The leaves have turned beautiful shades of reds, yellows, oranges, and purples. Smells of cinnamon and cloves fill the air. In a few weeks, many of us will take a step back to reflect among family and friends on all that we are thankful for.
Recently I had one of those extraordinary moments that occur in the middle of the most mundane parts of life. I was checking out at the grocery store. The bagger was an older gentleman—probably in his mid-seventies. His head was down, looking at the work he was doing for me, and his expression was neutral. Not sad, but certainly not joyful either. I managed to catch his eyes and gave him thanks for helping me.
The world stopped. He was visibly caught off guard. For an instant, there was a look of surprise on his face. It was as if no one had ever expressed thanks to him for the service he provided.
He looked up at me, and his eyes sparkled with his smile. As he finished helping me, he struck up a friendly conversation. He became more than a bagger; he was another human being with a story all his own. He became four-dimensional, and our worlds intersected in a way that has become rare in the tech world we all live in today.
I was taken aback at the power of such an ordinary moment. It seems like something so small as saying thank you is inconsequential. But expressing gratitude is seismic in its ability to impact the social landscape around us. Gratitude changes us. Gratitude changes the world.
Here are two ways to give thanks in your everyday encounters with others:
1. Be unrushed and sincere
Practice pausing, stopping in your tracks, looking people in the eyes and saying, “Thank you so much,” and mean it. That moment of unrushed sincerity carries significance that catalyzes transformation.
2. Be specific
Instead of leaving your thank you at a mere “thanks,” speak life into the other person by telling them how their kindness impacted you. Be specific.
I love the word “encourage.” It literally means “to fill with courage.” We have the great privilege and opportunity to speak into the potential of the people around us. Being specific in our gratitude is encouraging. It empowers others to be brave in their services to us, to own their worth, and to live it out often. Encouraging others with our gratitude demonstrates that we see value. Gratitude says, “Who you are and what you do matters.”
Today you have the opportunity to speak into the lives of people all around you. So tell your barista thank you for making your pumpkin-spiced latte. Tell your waiter that he’s really good at what he does. Tell the customer service representative on the phone to take their time, and thank you for working so hard to resolve the issue.
The world has far too many of us quickly uttering words that break down, words that demean, slander, degrade, and worse. But dear friends, we can choose a different path. We can choose a way that brings more of Jesus’ kindness and Kingdom here and now. Speak gratitude. Speak courage. And change your world.