Sermon Illustrations

“Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy - because we will always want to have something else or something more.” - David Steindl-Rast

Everyone likes to feel appreciated. I remember a job satisfaction survey years ago that showed employees were willing to accept less pay if they received more recognition and felt appreciated. The power of appreciation cannot be underestimated. Many marriages fail because one or both parties feel “taken for granted” – unappreciated. Friendships fall by the wayside because friends lose touch. They lose touch because they don’t make time to keep in touch and appreciate each other.

Have we committed ourselves to do everything except what’s most important? Most of us have more to do than we have time to do it in, but how long does it really take to say “thank you?” How long does it take to jot three sentences of thanks on a card and address the envelope? How many relationships and friendships have we sacrificed on the altar of our busyness? Did we gain anything worthwhile in place of the relationships we lost? A few more minutes in front of the latest reality show on television?

There are many ways to say thank you, phone calls, emails, small gifts and last but not least, thank you notes. Thank you notes seem to have become a lost art in our harried society. What a sad situation when a small token of appreciation that takes so few minutes to write can make such a big difference. In years past, I have gained more than one job over other qualified applicants by the mere margin of sending a Thank You note for the interview to the hiring manager. But the real reason I learned to write Thank You notes is I want the people in my life that I do appreciate and that I love, to know.

I remember one Christmas there were two people I wanted to buy really special gifts for. They lived far away from me and we didn’t have a lot of contact, but I cared very deeply for them and decided one Christmas I wanted to give them something really special to show the depth of my love and appreciation. Off I went on my quest for the perfect gifts. I decided gift bags would be best, since that way I could choose multiple gifts and be sure to please them. I shopped all the local stores where I lived as well as online to make my budget stretch as far as possible. Filled with excitement, I filled the gift bags with lovely luxuries I knew they were sure to enjoy and sent them on their way. Christmas came and went. Every time the phone rang, I was sure it would be one of them, calling to say how much they loved their gifts.

That call never came. There was never a note of thanks, a letter or even an email. To this day I don’t know if they enjoyed their gifts or if they even received them.

Being thankful is a lifestyle. It is the lifestyle of looking at the half of your cup that is full instead of the half that is empty, and being thankful every day for every person and every blessing you have in your life.

There are many people around us we appreciate and many ways to appreciate them. There are our friends and family, coworkers, service people, clerks and cashiers in stores. We appreciate different things about different people. But how

often do we express our appreciation? How many lives have you touched today by appreciating another?

William Arthur Ward said it best when he said “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” How can we expect to have strong friendships and good relationships if we never appreciate those who mean so much to us?

Everyone talks about how busy they are, but are we really that busy? If we are, perhaps some other things need to come off our schedules because the day eventually comes when those people are no longer around for us to appreciate.

“The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.” - H.U. Westermayer

Excerpted from Sidewalk Flowers, Vol. 1

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