by | Apr 29, 2019 | Appreciation

“The deepest principle of human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” (William James 1842–1910).

William Stidger, a Methodist minister, began to think of the blessings he had received during his life. He remembered a special elementary school teacher who had gone out of her way to give him a commendation for verse. It had been more than 50 years since Stidger had been in her class, but his appreciation for verse had endured since that time. Stidger wrote to his former teacher a letter of thanks and she replied: “My Dear Willie, I cannot tell you how much your note meant to me. I am in my eighties, living alone in a small room, cooking my own meals, lonely and, like the last leaf of autumn, lingering behind. You will be interested to know that I taught in school for fifty years and yours is the first note of appreciation I ever received.”

I regard the ministry of appreciation as of the highest importance. Many people in our communities perform valuable voluntary service and it is only those rare words of thanks and appreciation that are their reward.

We’re not very good at saying “Thank you,” are we? We’re like a little boy I heard about. On his return from a birthday party, his mother queried, “Bobby, did you thank the lady for the party?” Bobby replied, “Well, I was going to. But a girl ahead of me said, ‘Thank you,’ and the lady told her not to mention it. So I didn’t.”

We have much to thank God for and I have no doubt that as each day passes we ask God for more. Yet are we as faithful when it comes to giving thanks and showing our appreciation? In his final instructions to the Thessalonians, Paul wrote: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess 5:16-18). Paul’s letter was a stern command to the church, yet at the same time he gave thanks to God for what had been achieved in Thessalonica. Within a few months that little group of Christians, persecuted and deprived of their teachers, had become an example of unwavering faith to the rest of Greece.

Unquestionably, there is a direct link between thanks and appreciation and what can be achieved as a response. We can be down, particularly at a time of crisis or personal tragedy, yet to receive thanks can lift us out of depression or a feeling of wasted effort or futility. Often, over these past nearly seventeen years in writing and posting these weekly devotions and bible studies, I have had cause to question the value of my efforts. Yet without fail, at those times I have received an encouraging and uplifting email from somewhere on this planet, last week from South Africa, telling me just how a particular message has been of assistance. Recently, after a message about relationships, I heard from a subscriber that it had been instrumental in drawing a couple back together. Thanks be to God!

When you walk through a cemetery and read the inscriptions on the headstones, so often you will see the that family have given thanks for the life of the departed. Much the same in the obituary columns of the newspapers with friends and workmates showing their appreciation. It begs the question: was that appreciation extended while that person was alive and would have been encouraged by it?

Have a good week. Encourage someone by showing your appreciation.

Ron Clarke