Perhaps because this is the time of year when I’m on the road more often (as I write, there are 15 events on the calendar over the next 38 days), it’s easy to get focused on my own small world. A flight tomorrow, an event the next day—that sort of thing.
Therefore, my attention is on events and their outcomes. That’s fine, certainly. And, after an event, someone might come up to me and say, “Thank you for all you are doing!” These are kind words and appreciated.
But these words always get me thinking about our work. My question is, do those on the true front lines get thanked enough? Fact is, banquet speaking is not the front lines—at all. It is a place where the front lines can be highlighted and celebrated, but a stage is not where the main mission gets accomplished.
The true mission of reaching hearts, touching lives and saving lives takes place at resource centers, clinics, mobile units, maternity homes, and adoption agencies. This is where the action is and where the big decisions are made.
The truth? Those on the true front lines—many of you reading this—don’t get thanked enough. You deserve it because it is encouragement which can keep us going even through the most difficult of times.
For some reason, my mind harkens back to a day when I was serving as an executive director at a pregnancy help medical clinic; a day when it seemed nothing was going right. I’m sure none of you have ever had one of these days, but for the moment, humor me.
I can’t tell you what the problem was that day, but I can remember walking down to the end of the hall and into my office, then closing the door behind me. I sat back in my chair for a moment, then leaned forward and buried my head in my hands.
Nope, I didn’t cry. I’m a guy. For me, crying is only acceptable at the end of Hallmark Christmas movies.
I did, however, ask a question. Something like, “Lord, why in the world am I doing this? It’s not like it’s making any difference to anyone? Why don’t I just quit?”
Has anyone reading this ever had a moment like this? Bueller? Anyone?
If so, this column is for you.
If your answer is, “Never,” this moment is likely coming at some point. For now, encourage someone else who might be going through this today. And keep the following words in mind—you might need them someday.
Here’s what I want to say, in a nutshell: “Thank you.”
Thank you to those of you who aren’t seeing the results you wish but get up each morning determined to keep trying.
Thank you to you who just got knocked down by a well-meaning person offering “advice” on what you should be doing (but are not) in your ministry.
Thank you when you look at client statistics and—whether they are “good” or “bad”—ask probing questions to find ways to improve.
Thank you when someone didn’t show up and you filled in the gaps.
Thank you to you for seeing the angry young woman who glared darts at you throughout your time together—but you kept trying because she is worth it. Remember the angry Saul, who became Paul.
Thank you when you’re having conflict with someone (perhaps even in your office) and you go the extra mile toward reconciliation. We’re Christians, but we’re also human. Sometimes the “human” overcomes us, but let’s keep pressing on toward our upward call. We’ll get there, even with our shortcomings.
Thank you when a church doesn’t have time to allow you to present the great work going on in your ministry, but you find ways to bless that fellowship anyway, and support their work. Writing that note to thank a pastor for his time—even if it was time to say, “no”—shows who we are, and I’m thankful for you.
Thank you, because even when you think about giving up, you hang in there one more day. You never know when tomorrow will provide a breakthrough you couldn’t imagine today.
Some reading this are doing well. Thank you, because in every season of life, “thank you” is good to hear.
Some reading this are struggling, wondering if there must be another place for you other than this work. Thank you because, right now, you’re still here.
Today, let’s find someone to whom we can say, “Thank you.” It might make all the difference in the world.
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