The Gratitude That Influences

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Last week I mentioned over-dramatic kids complaining, “I’m starving!” Or people with expensive phones complaining about a slow internet connection. We’re really good at expressing what we want, aren’t we? In fact, we’re really good at loudly letting everyone around us know that we want something. 

But here’s a good question: Are we just as quick to loudly express our gratitude?     

It’s innate human nature to behave this way. No one has to teach a child to express their desires—loudly! But we do have to teach our children to say, “Thank you.” And sometimes it takes even more prompting to get them to say it loud enough for others to hear, and sincere enough for others to believe that they are truly grateful. 

So why would we expect it to be any different just because we happen to be older? That’s why we’ve noted that the attitude of gratitude is a great attitude, and it’s also an attitude that makes the grateful person stand out from the crowd. 

G.K. Chesterton noted, “In life you can take things one of two ways: you can take them for granted or you can take them with gratitude.” Sadly, it seems that “for granted” is what is typically exhibited. In fact, I think the granted-to-grateful ratio is 10-to-1. 

Luke alone tells a story in his Gospel about ten men with leprosy (Luke 17:11-19). All ten lepers had no problem calling out their need for healing “in a loud voice.” And they called out to the right Person, as they called Jesus “Master.” This word shows that they believed He could do something no one else could do. Indeed, Jesus shows His authority over leprosy with just the word, “Go” and “as they went, they were cleansed.” 

All ten were quick to loudly express their desire for healing and to call on the authority of Jesus, but only “one of them…came back, praising God in a loud voice.” Both Luke and Jesus affirm that all ten men were cleansed on the outside—their skin no longer showed the ravages of leprosy, but only to the one grateful man did Jesus say, “Your faith has healed and saved you” (v. 19 MSG). 

The Greek word here is sōzō. This is the same word used for the eternal salvation that Jesus alone can bring. Check out John 3:17, John 10:9, Acts 2:21, and Romans 10:9. This is better than just physical cleansing, it’s wholeness that lasts for eternity! 

E.M. Bounds wrote, “Gratitude and murmuring never abide in the same heart at the same time.” Sadly, the ratio of grumblers-to-praisers is only going grow as we move closer and closer to the end of the age, culminating in people who have the outward appearance of godliness (like the nine cleansed lepers) but ignore the true power of God for salvation (see 2 Timothy 3:1-5). 

In this take-everything-for-granted, focus-on-the-outward culture, those 1-in-10 stand out. Those who have gone beyond skin-deep cleaning to soul-deep salvation, and who loudly express their gratitude, are the ones the apostle Paul declares shine brightly and influence those around them (Philippians 2:14-16). 

The origin of the word influence comes from a power people thought those bright stars had to affect the lives of humans. So your consistent gratitude is influencing those around you, and giving them a star to chart their course, more consistently than almost anything else you can do. 

So shine on! Praise God loudly, quickly, and sincerely for what He has done for you! Be the 1-in-10! And then watch your influence impact everyone who encounters you.

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series The Great Attitude of Gratitude, you can find a list of all of the messages by clicking here. 

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Thanksgiving 365

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve! I am so thankful for you and the many ways you encourage and inspire me. 

I’ve got a challenge for you: How can you make the Thanksgiving spirit a 365-days-per-year thing instead of just one Thursday in November? 

Your gratitude expressed to others could be the lifeline that they need! 

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Attitude Adjustment

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Imagine if 700 years before you were born there was a prophecy given about you (Matthew 3:3). Or if on the day of your birth your father said, “And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for Him” (Luke 1:76). 

This was John the Baptist.

With these kinds of announcements and the stamp of approval from God Himself, it’s really quite astounding how humble John remained:

  • “After me comes One Who is more powerful than I, Whose sandals I am not worthy to carry” (Matthew 3:11). 
  • “[Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). 

The confidence that he was God’s man for the hour gave John boldness to speak truth to religious leaders, wealthy people, and Roman soldiers (Matthew 3:7-12; Luke 3:7-20). Yet his humility was almost his undoing. 

John preached boldly, fulfilling the prophecies that were made about him. But when Jesus came to him to be baptized, John’s humility caused him to defer initially. Then Jesus reminded him that His baptism was necessary “to fulfill all righteousness. Then John consented” (Matthew 3:13-15). 

Whether I am lacking confidence to speak or lead boldly, or lacking humility to let someone else take the lead, I need to return to the Word of God—just as John did. Both his confidence and his humility were balanced by words spoken over him by God. So it must be for you and me too. 

Confidence without humility or humility without confidence can trip me up and cause me to miss out on all that God needs me to do. So my daily prayer must be: Holy Spirit, may I be sensitive to every correction and adjustment You need to make in me. Illuminate the Scriptures that I need to apply to my life that will keep me in a healthy, balanced place. 

I wrote about this tension between confidence and humility in my book Shepherd Leadership. This was also a topic of conversation in two interviews I did, which you can find here and here. Healthy leaders need the proper balance of confidence and humility to keep their leadership in a place that God can use powerfully. 

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Grateful For What You Have

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We said last week that nobody likes to be around a complainer, although many complainers would say they’re not complaining but just sharing facts. In their mind, they have a legitimate right to let everyone know how they’ve been short-changed, gotten a bad deal, or experienced something that no one else has gone through.    

Have you ever heard your kids say, “I’m starving”? And perhaps you think, “Do you really know what starving is?” Or what about people waving their very expensive phones around as they complain, “Isn’t there any WiFi here?!” 

This isn’t a glass half-full or half-empty thing. This is really closing your eyes to the fact that many people don’t even have a glass, or if they do have a glass, they don’t have access to the water that they need. 

I was delivering some Christmas toys to a family and I discovered they had lost everything they owned. When I came to their house their furniture was mismatched, their food and clothes were donated, and their kids only had a couple of simple toys to play with. And yet this family was happy to be together! 

That sort of puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? 

We have to choose grumbling or gratefulness, but as E.M. Bounds noted, “Gratitude and murmuring never abide in the same heart at the same time.” So if you are complaining about what you don’t have, you cannot be grateful for what you do have. 

There is a fascinating story told in all four Gospels of a woman named Mary. She was an uninvited guest at a house where Jesus and His disciples had been invited to dinner. Jesus was not there because someone was grateful to have Him in his home, but because Simon the Pharisee and his cronies were trying to find a reason to accuse Jesus of wrongdoing. 

Simon was so focused on his “gotcha” moment that he completely overlooked his host duties. He didn’t wash Jesus’ feet, nor greet Him with a kiss, nor anoint Him with perfume, as the custom of the day demanded. But Mary, standing behind Jesus at the dinner table, washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, kissed His feet, and anointed Him with an entire bottle of costly perfume! She did all of this out of gratitude for what she had received from Jesus. 

First, I would like you to consider what Mary didn’t have:

  • a seat at the table—even though the dinner was in her hometown of Bethany, her brother Lazarus was invited to the meal, and her sister Martha was serving the meal 
  • a good reputation—twice Simon the Pharisee said, “Does Jesus even know what kind of woman she is? Does He know she is a sinner?” 
  • the acceptance or approval of others—even the disciples thought her gesture of anointing Jesus with so much perfume was a wasted extravagance 

Next, let’s look at what Simon did have:

  • an elevated position as a Pharisee 
  • considerable wealth—he had servants and a home large enough for a big dinner party 
  • healing from leprosy—the Gospels refer to him as “Simon the leper” which tells us that he had been healed of his leprosy 

Now, let’s consider what the disciples did have:

  • an enviable position as disciples of Jesus
  • a dinner invitation to Simon’s house
  • access to the financial resources that people gave to Christ’s ministry
  • and let us never overlook the fact that they had access to Jesus Himself like no one else had

Finally, let’s look at what Mary did have:

  • forgiveness—Luke says this about her, “A woman who HAD lived a sinful life” 

Gratitude is truly a great attitude. Grateful people stand out because they don’t grumble about what they don’t have, but they are focused on what they do have.  

Mary knew that she didn’t have the outward marks of success or favor or approval, but she did have the assurance that she had been forgiven. For that, she was more than willing to give everything she had to Jesus in thankful worship! 

And as a result, look what Mary now has:

  • the kind words of Jesus—He assured her that she was forgiven (Luke 7:47)
  • Jesus as her defender—He told His disciples, “Leave her alone” (John 12:7)
  • an eternal testimony—Jesus said that wherever the Gospel was preached, people would tell Mary’s story (Matthew 26:13) 

I think a good way to sum up the distinguishing way grateful people live is like this: They don’t grumble about what they don’t have, but they are extremely grateful for what they do have. 

When you find grumbling slipping out of your mouth, remind yourself of just how much you have been given. Even if you think to yourself, “I don’t have much,” you can be assured that you have Jesus, and He is more than enough! And with that assurance, let your gratitude be lifted up in extravagant, fragrant praise to God. 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series The Great Attitude of Gratitude, you can find the full list by clicking here. 

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Links & Quotes

Don’t wait until you feel like doing the next good thing, just do the next good thing and the good feelings will follow. Not only that, but you will motivate others too!

“Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.” —Booker T. Washington

This is a cool mini-biography of Gottfried von Leibniz, a German polymath, committed Lutheran, and one of the most wide-ranging intellects in all of history.

“Forgiveness does not excuse the offending behavior. Forgiveness excuses the offender. The fact that God forgives us of sin, does not make sinning okay. The fact that we forgive someone of their sin towards us, does not make the sin okay.” —Kanayo Situ

“The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions.” —Alfred Lord Tennyson

“In life you can take things one of two ways: you can take them for granted or you can take them with gratitude.” —G.K. Chesterton

T.M. Moore has an excellent post on how we can prepare for temptation before it even comes. Please check out this whole post which concludes with this thought, “Make up your mind, each day, that you’re going to resist temptation with prayer, preparation, and resting in the Word of God. Let the Spirit Who brings conviction and repentance be at work within you before you come upon the nets and snares of temptation, and you’ll be in a much better position to overcome the evil that threatens to engulf you, with the good choices and conduct that please the Lord and honor Him.”

More amazing evidence of the creativity of our Creator. Researchers have discovered how plant roots adapt based on the presence or lack of water.

Help With Our Blind Spots

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Check out a snippet of this conversation I had with John Opalewski and Jim Wiegand on the Leading From Alignment podcast. If you want to watch the full 30-minute interview, check out this link. 

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I have posted quite a bit this week about a leader’s self-awareness—from my book review of John Maxwell’s The Self-Aware Leader, to my training with a pastoral team in South Carolina, to the clip I just shared from this interview. This aspect is so crucial for leadership success. 

As one of my friends commented to me this week, “Your timing on this is incredible—I was just thinking about self-awareness this morning. It’s probably my biggest fear as a leader: am I accurate in my own self-assessment? am I who I think I am?” These are questions that all leaders should be asking regularly. 

I’ll be sharing more clips from this Leading From Alignment interview soon, so please stay tuned. Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple.

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You Are A Unique And Unbalanced Leader

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I read a report that said today the world’s population hit 8 billion people. Demographers estimate that in the history of our planet, 120 billion people have lived on Earth. Amazingly, every single one of these 120 billion people have been unique creations! 

Let me state that more personally: There has never been anyone like you, nor is there anyone like you now, nor will there ever be anyone like you. God made you unique from all others. 

And God made you uniquely unbalanced. 

If you’ve ever taken a personality test or any other kind of assessment you probably noticed that there were areas that scored very high, and perhaps some areas that barely even registered. This is a part of your unique composition. 

Your uniqueness was given to you by God on purpose—He knew exactly what He was doing when He made you you. I recently chatted with the pastoral staff of Faith Wesleyan Church as they are doing a book study on my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter. I joined them for their discussion of chapters 4 and 5, in which I talk about the way God has wired leaders to be naturally more confident or more humble. Check this out…

Shepherd leaders, you can best individualize your care of the sheep God has given you when you understand how God has wired you. Don’t make excuses for your unbalancedness, but don’t let your uniqueness hold you back either. Get around other healthy leaders who can speak firmly and lovingly to you. This will allow your uniqueness to be leveraged for God’s glory as you lead His flock that He has entrusted to you. 

I’ll be sharing more clips from this training session soon, so please stay tuned. In the meantime, if you would like me to join your team in a similar discussion of Shepherd Leadership, please get in touch with me. Shepherd Leadership is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple.

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Podcast: Defend Against Quiet Quitting

Listen to the audio-only version of this podcast by clicking on the player below, or scroll down to watch the video.

On this episode of “The Craig And Greg Show” we talk about: 

  • [0:37] What is quiet quitting? 
  • [3:18] Is this just “a generational thing?” The guys say “no.”
  • [3:52] Why are workers quiet quitting?
  • [6:12] Quiet quitters infect the whole organization.
  • [6:44] Leaders need to share a compelling vision.
  • [8:16] How do leaders create an environment that excites workers to contribute?
  • [9:00] Leaders can unleash the potential in their teammates.
  • [9:43] What do leaders need to know about quiet quitters?
  • [11:06] How do leaders really gauge productivity?
  • [12:39] How do leaders “push the button” to motivate their teammates?
  • [13:44] Leaders need to defend a high-productivity culture.
  • [14:28] Craig adapts five principles from a book he read to help us motivate our team.
  • [19:56] The sad fate of leaders who quiet quit.
  • [20:47] Leaders need empowered teammates to expand their influence.
  • [22:22] We celebrate the behaviors we want to see throughout the organization.

Check out this episode and subscribe on YouTube so you can watch all of the upcoming episodes. You can also listen to our podcast on Spotify and Apple.

The Self-Aware Leader (book review)

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Leaders never “arrive” at a place where they have accomplished everything they want to accomplish. John Maxwell helps leaders keep pressing on in their personal growth in his book The Self-Aware Leader. 

This book is largely autobiographical, as Maxwell leads us through lessons that he learned by not being self-aware. His leadership stumbles served as a wake-up call that allowed him to reflect, learn, and then correct his technique. Then after decades of honing these techniques, he shares with his readers the practical steps for them to become self-aware of a potential stumbling point before it actually trips them up. 

I also appreciated the self-aware leader’s questions for reflection at the end of each chapter. To me, this is an ideal place for leaders who are in mutual accountability to focus their discussion as they meet together. My biggest takeaway from this book is that I cannot become self-aware nor correct the things that could derail my leadership solely on my own. Reading The Self-Aware Leader is a good starting point, but I also highly recommend reading this book with another leader that also desires to grow and improve. 

Leaders who want to uncover the things that could be holding them back will really benefit from reading and applying this book. For my Patreon supporters, I have also shared several noteworthy quotes from this book here. 

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Magnifying God

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible.

No one likes to be around a complainer! 

Complainers, ironically, find things wrong everywhere else but with themselves. Complainers know how everyone else should raise their kids, run their businesses, operate their government, lead their sports teams to victory, but they seldom apply their so-called wisdom to their own lives. Complainers find the one thing that’s wrong in an otherwise perfect situation.   

Complaining is easy because it comes so naturally. What do I mean by that? Take a look at the magazine covers at your grocery store—do they have good news or complaints? Take a look at the lead news stories—are they celebrations or complaints? Those magazines want to sell copies. Those news stations want viewers. Those websites want clicks. They wouldn’t promote the complaints if they didn’t get them the attention (and the advertising revenue) they desire! 

Let me see a show of hands on this: How many of you want to be around complainers? 

I noticed no one raised their hand, so I need to ask a follow-up question: Why do you complain? If you don’t like to be around a complainer, why do you do what others obviously don’t like either? 

I think we complain because we think our situation is unique—no one has experienced anything quite like what we’re going through. We often make a list to “prove” to everyone that we have earned the right to complain. This is what Job did. Check out his list in Job 7:1-11, and then notice his conclusion where he says, “Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.” 

But we need to be careful because the Bible makes it clear that complainers make God angry (see Numbers 11:1; 1 Corinthians 10:10-11). Why? I think there are two reasons. 

First, I think God gets angry about complaints because of how quickly they spread to everyone around them—like cancer cells they destroy the whole body. 

Second, complainers take everyone’s eyes off God and point their attention to the lousy situation about which they are complaining. 

On the other hand, grateful people stand out because they can find the one thing worthwhile in an otherwise lousy situation. Being a grateful person takes discipline to overcome the downward pull of everyone else’s complaints. 

Paul wrote a letter to the church at Philippi that is bursting with thankfulness! We only have to get three verses in when he says, “I thank my God every time I remember you” (Philippians 1:3). 

Paul stood out because of his great attitude of gratitude. Consider what happened the very first time he visited the city of Philippi. He and Silas were wrongly accused, beaten, and locked in prison. Paul didn’t start a petition, he didn’t give the jailer a bad review on Yelp, he didn’t organize a rally, he didn’t call the Roman governor. Instead, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God while the other prisoners listened in (Acts 16:16-25). 

In a lousy, unfair, dark situation, Gratitude says, “God is still God, and He is still worthy of abundant praise!” 

So in the middle of his letter to the Philippians, Paul instructs these Christians to: Do all things without murmurings and disputings (Philippians 2:14 KJV). Murmurings are the vocalizing of the faults we have found. Disputings, though, are internal. In the Greek, this word almost always refers to complaining and grumbling thoughts, and many times it’s translated as “evil thoughts.” 

When the complaining comes out of our mouths, that is just the ugly weed. The root of that complaint is in our hearts. We don’t need a vocabulary change, we need a heart change. 

When we praise God, we magnify Him. That doesn’t make God bigger because He is infinite. But it does put a “telescope” on Him. Telescopes bypass everything that is close by and focus on something majestic. Our praise—like Paul and Silas’ song from prison—invites others to look through our telescope to see the God we are magnifying. 

Gratitude can start with one person, and then it can spread. Gratitude can counteract the cancerous complaints. Will you be that one grateful person at this Thanksgiving season and beyond? Will you be the one that says, “No matter what, God is still God, and He is still worthy of abundant praise”? Will you be that one that sings praise at the exact moment everyone else expects complaints? If you do, your gratitude will entice others to want to worship this all-good God too! 

Follow along with all of the messages in our series called The Great Attitude Of Gratitude by clicking here. 

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