The atrocities in Paris, like the mass-shootings in the US and 9-11, remind us that tomorrow is never guaranteed and abruptly redirect our thoughts to what is most important in life. This Thanksgiving season also provides a natural opportunity to reflect on what we value most and how we live out those values.
Reflecting on death and the values of life, a life well lived, David Brooks, one of the nation’s leading writers and commentators, begin his most recent book, with these words:
“Recently I’ve been thinking about the difference between the resume virtues and the eulogy virtues. The resume virtues are the ones you list on your resume, the skills that you bring to the job market and that contribute to external success. The eulogy virtues are deeper. They’re the virtues that get talked about at your funeral, the ones that exist at the core of your being—whether you are kind, brave, honest or faithful; what kind of relationships you formed.”
Genuine, deep gratitude is another of those “eulogy virtues” that is at the core of people who have a lasting impact on us. These people do more than say, “thank you.” These people act in a way that others feel appreciated and believed in, even when they fall short of their potential.
Duke’s legendary Coach K tells the story of his second season, the evening his basketball team lost the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament by a score of 109-66. The blowout ended the second worst win-lost season in Duke’s history. The worst record was set the year before by coach K in his first season. After the disgracing loss, Coach K gathered his humiliated staff at the end of the night and told them, “Okay, listen up, fellas. We aren’t going to do anything desperate. We aren’t recruiting anyone else. If we coach these players well, I believe they’ll win.” And win they did. When those same players became seniors, they finished the regular season ranked number one in the national polls.
When a leader truly is grateful for his or her individual team members and deeply believes them, they will know it because subconsciously it will demonstrate itself in attitudes and actions. In turn, this gratitude will make a difference in their personal lives, as well as in the accomplishments of the team.
As you express your thanksgiving to God this season for all He has done, think about how often you have expressed your appreciation to those around you. Our churches and families would be so much healthier and filled with much more joy if we found ways of expressing the sentiments Paul expressed to his friends in Philippi:
“Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart.”
If others would not say that “gratitude” is one of your “eulogy virtues,” it is never too late to change your ways.