A Dirty, Thankful Job

I have a dirty, thankful job…but someone’s got to do it. Thanking people can sometimes feel like work that’s “down and dirty,” but it might be even more rewarding to you than it is to the one receiving the thanks.

I recently read Tom Peters’ 507 page tome called The Little Big Things. Peters is one of the authors of the classic book, In Search of Excellence. In his new book he claims it’s the little things that make a big difference in business. And if in business, why not in the church as well? Granted, Word and Sacrament are not little things at all. They are the biggest and best things of all. But there are little things that we do because we are gifted with Word and Sacrament that can have a profound human impact, and even a profound spiritual impact.

In The Little Big Things Tom Peters asks: “How many times…today…did you ‘use the two words’? I.e….Exactly how many times did you utter: ‘Thank you’?” It’s a dirty, thankful job…but someone’s got to do it. Why not you? Why not me?

This past week I took Peters’ words to heart and I actually sat down and typed a personal letter to a college professor of mine who has had a profound impact on my life. I didn’t send an email. I didn’t text message. I didn’t leave a voice mail. I didn’t instant message. I wrote a full page, single-spaced letter, put it on letterhead, addressed it, and dropped it in the mail. (Aside: In this day and age of email and text messaging, don’t you love getting a personal note or letter in the mail?)

As I wrote the letter I began to appreciate more than ever the wisdom, guidance, modeling, faithfulness, humor, and knowledge that my professor and mentor passed on to me. Writing the “thank you” letter may have meant more to me than it did to him.  It helped me appreciate the gift of God that I have been given in that one man.

I bet I could write a “thank you” letter or note every day, and never run out of people to thank…and learn to appreciate even more the gifts that have been passed on to me by God through people. I don’t want to presuppose anything, but I dearly hope that the letter I sent to my college professor made his day. It would make my day to make his.

It might feel humbling to have to constantly thank other people. But “dirty, thankful jobs” can create good will, good effort, good grace, good teamwork, and even good friends, family, partners, and fellow Christians.

I now have a sticky note on the front of my computer that says: “Whom have you thanked today?”

Whom have you thanked today? Let me know. I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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9 thoughts on “A Dirty, Thankful Job

  1. I'll speak up and challenge every renaissanceegg reader to write at least five handwritten thank you notes to someone – anyone – in the next seven days. And you get bonus points if you write a note to your garbage collectors (just tape it to the top of the can). I can't image how thankless their job must be and yet where would we would be without them. Who else do you think rarely receives thanks? 5 x .44 (stamp) = 2.20. THANK YOU for considering this idea. By the way, don't feel guilty if you don't take the challenge! It's just a thought! Feel grace, not guilt!

  2. Such a great reminder–and ironic that this morning I felt compelled to thank Ryan for making the bed every morning. But in general, thanking people is not something I do often enough. It's so much easier to focus turn our thoughts inward and complain about other people or their actions when in fact I have so many people to thank and so many people who need to hear my thanks!

    Thank you for the reminder!

  3. Tomorrow is my daughter, Paula's, "Pink Shelf Day", which means it is the day we picked her out and brought her home from the "Kinderheim", in 1961. I told her thank you for being the person she is and for bringing us joy in our lives through her adoption.

  4. A great challenge to write some thank yous. I know just where to begin as it has been on my mind for some time. Thank you for posting a reminder to appreciate people. I know we do not write enough to those who impact our lives.

  5. I did 6 months as a custodian at a gradeschool, cleaning hallways, toilets, scrubbing floors. It's the hardest work I've ever done — for the least money I've ever earned per hour. Because of that experience, I make a practice of thanking people who clean at the Quick Trip, the motels I stay at, at Wal Mart, wherever I find them. Walk a mile in THEIR shoes and see your perspective change — and see theirs change when you thank them!