I was happy to speak for my friend and former boss, Rick Warren, when he asked me (and a list of others) to fill-in the pulpit for him while he’s on a much needed and deserved sabbatical.

It was Father’s Day weekend, and I had a blast being back “home” where I served on staff for almost 20 years.

Quick review:
1. I spoke.
2. I received an honorarium.
3. I got a nice thank you email from Rick.
4. I moved on to other speaking & writing things that I do.

Yesterday I came home and saw a package on my front porch—I assumed it was the new running shoes I had recently ordered. Nope. A gift basket from Rick Warren (exactly 1 month after I spoke for him). I would bet my entire savings account that he didn’t go pick it out or ship it (that’s a safe bet—he has a skilled team of people helping him). But, attached to the gift was a very nice card filled with words of affirmation (that wasn’t written from his team). Words of affirmation is my primary love-language. It was powerful. It was a month later. I had already been thanked. It was like a triple blessing. It got me thinking about leadership…

Here’s the leadership principle I thought about: As a leader, you value people when you thank them sincerely.

People perform duties all the time. Many are even compensated for those duties (as I was). Some are even thanked (as I was—see #3 above). Rick’s (above & beyond) gift and card made me think about all the opportunities I’ve missed to sincerely, and overly thank people who have contributed to something important to me and/or events/priorities/programs that I deem mission critical. Sure I thanked people for helping at our Student Leadership Conferences, but I haven’t gone above-and-beyond the normal thanks. I need to become better at that. I like to think I’ve done a good job of caring for the leaders connected to me, but I know that when I’m busy… the expression of my appreciation fades.

What about you?

• Who is that volunteer who shows up every Wednesday night? How can you shower him/her with sincere appreciation for their faithfulness?

• What about the Sunday School teacher who, week-after-week, teaches the ways to Jesus to teenagers? They’re not teaching for the pay… how are they being thanked… sincerely thanked?

• How about the parent who you know is praying for you, your family, and your ministry? What can you do to shower them with thanks?

Leaders are busy… and expressing thankfulness takes time… and time is a value. I know that well. Effective leaders know how to value others… really value them—even if they do the same thing week-after-week.