Saying ‘thank you’ is a powerful thing. We appreciate people recognising our efforts and we get deflated if we’re taken for granted. These two little words can make all the difference in a relationship. Not that we should do things for the praise of others, but receiving their praise brings joy and encouragement. It puts fuel in our tanks.
I’ve been planning, preparing, leading and teaching at an annual student conference every year since we’ve been in Canberra. Last year was to be my final Focal Point Conference. I finished the week to an emotional farewell and many expressions of thanks from my co-workers and the students attending the conference.
I wasn’t going to be involved this year because we were planning to be 4000 km away in Darwin. But those plans have changed and I was able to attend the teaching sessions each evening. A good friend of mine was the speaker and I was keen to learn from him on the topic of Grace. On the Thursday night, I was to be interviewed about the student ministry in Canberra and the impact it’s had over the previous two decades. However, I suspected something else was happening when I saw my parents seated in the auditorium! They’ve never been to one of these conferences and they live at least 4 hours away.
The interview took place, I shared a few stories, and then my good friend and co-worker Marcus Reeves, stood up to say a few words. To be honest, I don’t remember anything he said! But I know what he was saying. It was thank you! He expressed his and others appreciation to Fiona and I for the work that had gone into all of the Focal Points. We were thanked for the investment we’d made in student ministry in Canberra.
We were presented with two pictures to hang on the wall. The first is a ‘word picture’ containing the names of just about everyone who has ever attended a Focal Point. We’ve put this up in our dining room so that when people drop round they can read through it searching for their names. If you’ve been to one, then maybe you will find your name here! Click on the picture and it will grow!
The second picture is a mosaic of the covers of every book we produced for the conferences. Some of them aren’t particularly inspiring – they’re the ones I designed – but they have a special significance. Each one is a record of our effort to bring blessing to others and the collage is a great blessing of thanks in return. This picture has gone ‘straight to the pool room’ (replacing the framed limited edition 2004 Brumbies jersey)!
However, the thanks doesn’t primarily go to us. It belongs to God. It’s been his work. He’s the focal point of everyone of these conferences. It’s been his word and his work that has changed the lives of the people attending. God deserves all the honour and glory and praise. It was highly appropriate that we spent time that night thanking our great God for what he has done.
The apostle Paul is a good example to us of giving due thanks to God. Notice how he writes at the beginning of a number of his New Testament letters…
3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:3-6)
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people — 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. (Colossians 1:3-6)
2 We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3)
Let me encourage you to say thank you. You can be a huge encouragement to others simply by noticing what they do and expressing your appreciation. I don’t think I’m that good at offering thanks to others, but I do want to get better. Giving thanks to others is an important way to bless them.
And most of all, why not stop and take the time to say thank you to God. For the little things as well as the big things. We tend to say thanks before we have meals, but we’ve received a whole lot more than the food we’re about to eat. All we are and all we have is a gift from God. He gave us life and he offers us life eternal through Jesus Christ. Do you think maybe it’s time we gave him the thanks he deserves?
Thank you for reading this. May God bless you.