Leaders: Grating or Grateful

Written by Burt Braunius /
April 15, 2014

Over the years, I’ve probably reported to dozens of supervisors. Most have been grateful, some have been grating. You know the difference immediately. By grateful, I am referring to those leaders who express appreciation. They acknowledge, support, and encourage those with whom they work.There have been a few who were simply grating. That is, they have tendencies to irritate and annoy and even threaten. Working with them is unpleasant. Even anticipating meetings with them brings on feelings of anxiety, nervousness, uptightness, and stress.

There may be ways in which all of us are grating to others, myself included. That’s why I appreciated the recent book summary of Grateful Leaders by Judith W. Umlas in Leaders Book Summary (http://churchleadershipcenter.us2.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=fe35401fdf9f2a380db6aa6c0&id=599d029def&e=9d8cfe455e). It is filled with common sense and well-researched information about the importance of being grateful and treating others gratefully.

The author discusses characteristics of grateful leaders and the benefits that result from being one. The book summary gives principles for grateful leadership. I enjoyed reviewing these and found myself doing some theological reflection on the topic.

Principles for Grateful Leadership.
Grateful leadership thoughtfully appreciates and acknowledges others. It is based on the following principles.
Principle 1: Gratitude is deserved by many but received by few.
Principle 2: Gratitude builds trust and creates powerful interactions.

Individuals may be recognized for:

  • What they do to help meet a deadline.
  • The quality of their work.
  • Their responsiveness.
  • Their commitment.

Appreciation can be expressed for:

  • What you admire and what inspires you about them,
  • What you see in them that they may not even see in themselves.
  • Their value to the team and to the organization.

Principle 3: Gratitude can help diffuse jealousy and envy, especially your own.
Principle 4: Gratitude energizes people – lack of it diminishes them.
Principle 5: Gratitude can make a profound difference in a person’s life and work.
Principle 6: Gratitude improves physical and emotional wellbeing.
Principle 7: Gratitude is to be practiced in different ways.

Naturally, in reflecting on the topic of gratefulness or gratitude, my mind goes to the Heidelberg Catechism. One popular way of identifying its themes uses the three “Gs:” Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude. Q and A 90 is especially focused on gratitude or gratefulness.
Q. What is the rising-to-life of the new self?
A. Wholehearted joy in God through Christ and a love and delight to live according to the will of God by doing every kind of good work (Ps. 51:8, 12; Isa. 57:15; Rom. 5:1; 6:10-11, 14:17, Gal. 2:20).

The answer to Q 90 identifies what should be normal relational qualities for everyone. They are especially important for Christian leaders. Most likely, they are more caught than taught. It is good to ask the question, As a leader, how am I reflecting wholehearted joy, love, and delight as I serve with others and seek to guide them in ministry?

Church Leadership Center works in partnership with pastors, churches, and other ministry groups to prepare church leaders for grateful service. We also do assessment interviews and reports; personalized training plans, classes, and certification so that participants are able to joyfully and wholeheartedly increase their effectiveness in all areas of church life. Click here for more information. To view videos about Commissioned Pastors and those who support them, click here. To read previous blogs, click here.

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