THE MAGAZINE

What Defines A Leader Most

I had a chat this morning with my uncle who, after working at a multinational company, had since retired to a life devoted to mission work and giving his time and expertise to various Christian organizations (amongst these Alpha, YWAM, the Million Leaders Mandate, and the Bible Society). Some of his adventures have included a year spent on a Mercy Ship sailing to ports around the world providing free health care to the poor, and over the decades, doing humanitarian work in Aceh, East Timor, post-tsunami Sri Lanka, and other disaster areas in Asia.

“Do you know what John Maxwell said was the true test of leadership?” My uncle asked as we were driving to town for lunch. He was referring to the American pastor and author of countless leadership books like the The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (1998) and The Five Levels of Leadership (2011).

“It’s the ability to say two words — ‘Thank you.’ “

He then brought up the incident in the Gospel of Luke where Jesus meets the ten lepers.

As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed.

Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan.

Then Jesus answered and said,“Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” Luke 17: 12–19

“All of us want to feel valued and appreciated,” explains John Maxwell in one of his daily encouragement videos. “No one wants to feel taken advantaged of, or unappreciated for what they’ve done or what they’ve said.”

And so, those who are in a habit of thanking others recognize effort or service when they see it, don’t take things for granted, and thus unintentionally wield influence over others because of that attitude of gratitude.

On a side note, I don’t usually feel an acute shortage of people thanking me for stuff, but it is true that not every person I lead, whether positionally or otherwise, takes the time or remembers to thank me. Obviously, I’m not asking for it, I do what I do within my spheres of influence because I like it or believe in it, but yes, it would be nice if more than one person said hey, thanks.

Here’s the thing. The word of thanks, the expression of gratitude, especially when it comes from a good friend, family, or a child (mine), goes a long way and warms me more than if it came from an acquaintance and much less, a stranger.

Ain’t it funny?

What’s your take on ‘Thank you”? Is it just a formality or do you treasure it? Love to hear your thoughts. 

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