There have been some youth ministry events lately where I’ve received a “Congratulations” on a successful event or a “Hey, thanks a lot for all you’ve done.”
Now, often out a sense of feigned humility for many years, I usually had some options of a comeback for such kind words:
> No worries. It’s a very laid back “Hukuna Matata” sort of response. It’s a step-up from a diminishing “Ah, sucks, it was nothing.” That belittles the original “thank you” as questioning the perception of the thanker who took the time and effort to acknowledge your time and effort which, with a comment like this, you just sorta blew off.
> Diffusing the praise. Comments like “Hey, it was a team effort;” “ Wasn’t someone else (besides me) great when they…;” and/or “Hey, no, really, you did some great stuff here, so thank YOU!” really help us to hide our own light under a bushel basket.
> a favorite has included the Chick-Fil-A response of “My pleasure.” The “my pleasure” policy was instituted by the company’s founder, Truett Cathy, was inspired by a visit to the Ritz Carlton. When Cathy said “thank you” to the man behind the counter, he responded, “My pleasure.” Out of this exchange, Chick-Fil-A’s novel idea was born: treat customers as if they’re at a luxury establishment. (I once watched my mischievous son take great glee in this standard as he must have included 11 thank-you’s in his brief order at the counter.
I have, mentally, at least, tried to grow beyond responses such as these. I would really like to say, “Hey, it’s what we do.” Our successes should be defining moments for how we understand and evaluate our ministries. We should aspire to achieve them every time we step put and into our role as leaders. We should use these “thank you” occasions to mark where we want to be and where we want to be beyond the next time we serve.
And, often, “It’s what we do” can be a scary comment. We know we are flawed. We know we are imperfect. We know we are sinners. We rather be defined by our successes from the comfort of hiding our dark sides under bushel baskets. “It’s what we do” can still be tough for me to claim and own as a response.
Which is why, today, when thanks where offered after a training day, I looked the person in the eyes, smiled, and said…