Gratitude is something that gets so easily consumed in life. It is far too easy to see what we don’t have and miss the joy of what we do. This is true for people as well as things and resources.
In the context of leadership, far too often we look to other leaders and their influence, staff, and resources and become envious or, at least, think that would be nice to have also. In doing so, we can end up feeling less worthy, inadequate, or become bitter at the unfairness of it all.
The culture we live in has definitely become one of entitlement. From children thinking they should have the latest and greatest gadget to adults thinking they deserve a new car, our culture is completely infused with a mentality of “enough is never enough, I want more!”
While we readily identify this entitled posture among spoiled young people and obnoxious adults, all of us are susceptible to this trap is we aren’t careful.
The problem with looking at what others have that we don’t is it will leave us feeling shorted because there will always be someone with more. More money. More influence. More staff. More resources. More talent. And the worst will be when we feel that for someone reason they might be less deserving than we are.
In my last post in this series, “Managing Me… Humility”, I mentioned that it isn’t about us and that even our abilities were given to us by our Creator. This is a good place to start. The realization that all the good within me is the result of a gift from someone else should quickly put me in a grateful posture. Even the very air we breathe is a gift.
The happiest people I have ever met have one thing in common… they live grateful for everything. I have sat in homes in El Salvador with dirt floors and the water comes from a 55 gallon barrel outside and seen joy in the heart of the family living there. I have experienced exuberant thankfulness in worship at a church with no walls in Africa where most of the people walked up to 2 hours to be there. How can these people with so little by our standards be so happy? Simple. They live grateful. They thank God every day for life, for family, for another day.
On my most recent trip to El Salvador I met a young lady there who is training for ministry. One morning she was speaking to our group at breakfast and remarked how thankful she was for a pillow the night before. Turns out she had not had one for four months. Most of us have to move pillows off our bed to get in at night. Here she was thankful for having just one. Our Executive Pastor, Brent Salyers, starts every day thanking God for his pillow because it reminds him to live that day grateful.
Let’s get good at saying, “Thank You!” Let’s become experts at displaying gratitude. Let us find the joy of realizing that every day is a possibility filled gift.
Imagine how life and work would be different if everyone started to be thankful for what they had instead of lamenting that they don’t have more.
What if we took time to thank people daily for who they are and what they do?
What if we stopped and showed gratitude for having a car instead of getting angry at traffic?
What if we were thankful that we could buy things at the store instead of throwing a fit because there isn’t and empty check out line?
What would change if our lives exuded a gratitude filled joy instead of an entitlement based bitterness?
I think a lot would change. Maybe everything.
I can’t change other people. Only God can. Even as a leader, it is not my position to fix people. As a leader, it is my responsibility to show people the way with my life.
Instead of trying to fix or change everyone, rather than yell and scream and stomp at how bad things are, I think I am going to do my part of managing me and try to live more grateful every day. Just maybe, you will join me. Who knows, it just might make a difference.