Creating an enabling environment of appreciation


Expressing gratitude is an act that needs to find a good space in our daily interaction with people in all sections of the society. In many ways, appreciation works like oil that lubricates life relationships on the planet earth. In reality however, not many of us seem to attach the needed attention and urgency to the simple act of appreciation.

The Debt of Gratitude

The expression of appreciation and gratitude helps us to gain access to better resources, better services and greater opportunities.  According to the Apostle Paul, everyone has a debt of gratitude to pay,

“What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (I Corinthians 4:7 NIV)..

Therefore, all people – the wealthy, the needy, the employer, the employee, parents, children etc.- need to show and express appreciation in our daily interactions, wherever we find ourselves.

The Power of Appreciation

Showing appreciation could work wonders in some situations.  In 1974-5, while on a French study programme at the University of Dakar, Senegal, I had a taste of the power of appreciation. A fellow Ghanaian student, on a similar study programme, offered me a book entitled, From Prison to Praise (1970), written by Merlin R. Carothers.  This student had become physically handicapped as a result of a car accident. Leaning on his clutches, he explained that the book had been of tremendous help to him and he wanted me also to read it.

I read the book with a lot of enthusiasm, very eager to discover the secret behind this unusual book offer.  At the end of my reading, I was surprised by the emphasis the author places on expressing gratitude.  Merlin bases his presentation on Paul’s exhortation to the Thessalonians,

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV).

In his book, the author highlights the aspect of giving thanks “in all circumstances” – good or bad.  It was a great lesson for me, so I decided to put this concept of appreciation into practice.

One Sunday, I requested a Senegalese photographer to take a picture of me.  A week later, he returned with a few copies of the photo.  I found the photo to be very good.  It occurred to me, at this time, that I could try the lesson of appreciation I had learnt from the book, From Prison to Praise. Wearing a broad smile, I told the photographer that I was very happy and impressed with the work he had done.

A week later, the photographer came to look for me.  He handed to me a large portrait of the same photo he had taken of me earlier. I was surprised because I had not requested him to do any other copies of my picture, apart from the ones he had already delivered.  I took the large photo with a lot of reluctance.

In response, the photographer smiled and said in French,

“C’est mon cadeau pour vous. C’est gratuit.” (It’s my gift for you. It’s free).  He went on to explain that he was so impressed with my words of appreciation concerning his previous work that he decided to make this special copy for me as a gift.  Indeed, I was stunned at his response, not knowing what to say.  I told myself, “So this principle of appreciation works, and it has worked for me too!”

The Blessings in Thanksgiving

Many managers would easily overlook the services of the people who help them to achieve wealth and fame. As for a man called Boaz, he knew that without the hard work of the workers, he would be unable to achieve his business success. In the Book of Ruth, we see him interacting constructively with his workers.  On his arrival at the farm, he greets his workers with a blessing,

“The LORD be with you.” (Ruth 2:4a).

The workers also respond with a blessing,

“The LORD bless you.”(Ruth 2:4b).

What a beautiful relationship between employer and employees!

In Challenging Times

In real life situations, we find it easier giving thanks to God for the good things we enjoy and when things are moving the way we want.  However, thanking God for situations we consider as bad or challenging could be tough.  Nevertheless, that is what Paul challenges us to do in I Thessalonians 5:18.

Jacob was faced with a very serious challenge. There was famine in Canaan where he and his family lived.  His ten sons he sent to buy food supplies from Egypt came back to report that the Egyptian Prime Minister had demanded to see Benjamin, their youngest brother, on their next trip to Egypt, before they would be allowed to obtain more food for the family.  This was disturbing news for Jacob. Already, his favourite son, Joseph, was presumed dead (according to the report his older sons had given him).  At this time, he was not ready to risk the life of his second favourite son, Benjamin.

However, it came to a critical point where the family food resources were getting exhausted.  There was no other option.  Benjamin had to go to Egypt.  In his frustration, Jacob cried out in frustration,

“Everything is against me!” (Genesis 42:36b NIV).

Unknown to Jacob, God had planned a glorious future for him and his family in  Egypt.  In the end, his frustration turned into joyous celebration of God’s abundant provision for him and his family.  He was also able to re-unite with his son Joseph, who had become Prime Minister in Egypt.

Jacob’s story is certainly a great example that illustrates the fact that we should give thanks to God in all circumstances, because He knows the exciting things He has in store for us, as stated in Jeremiah 29:11,

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Where is Praise & Thanksgiving in our Prayers?

Today, our prayers are usually loaded with series of request for God’s blessings of material prosperity – employment, salary increase, cars, travel visas, financial breakthrough etc.  More often than not, we even fail to thank God for answering our prayers.

Where are the Nine?

In Luke Chapter 17, we learn of ten lepers who were healed by Jesus Christ.  Out of the ten, only one person, a Samaritan, returned to say “Thank you” to Jesus. It is important to note that God expects us to express our appreciation for His love and care for us.  We see this clearly in the statement of our Lord Jesus Christ,

“Were not all ten cleansed?  Where are the other nine?  Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?”(Luke 17:17-18).

The obvious question is: Why did the nine others fail to return to express their gratitude to Jesus?  Probably, they were more preoccupied with celebrating their new health status with their relatives and friends; and in the end, they forgot to go back to the Master Healer, to express their gratitude.

Expressing Gratitude to God

David is one Biblical personality who had deep understanding of God’s loving kindness and the need to express our sincere appreciation to our Creator.   He calls on all people,

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” (Psalm 100:4 NIV).

It is time for a paradigm shift. We need to develop an attitude of gratitude and create an enabling environment, where appreciation marks our daily interactions with our Maker and with our fellow human beings.  This will help us to successfully accomplish our mission on earth and reposition us for God’s eternal blessings.

The writer is an HR/Management Practitioner

Phone/WhatsApp. No: 0244599628

E-mail: [email protected]

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