This article was written by Mike Bonem and first published on Used with permission. 

Shawn Achor has an entertaining and interesting TED talk called “The Happy Secret to Better Work.” His message is that people think success will bring happiness, but research shows that the reverse is actually true. Happiness leads to success. People who reflect on the good things in their lives become more positive, which translates into higher productivity and effectiveness, which ultimately results in greater success.

grateful leader

Achor presents this research from a purely secular, psychological perspective, and yet I couldn’t keep from thinking of related passages in Scripture. For example, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). I also kept thinking about the important implications of this message for Christian leaders.

If Achor is right in saying that reflection on our blessings leads to greater success, and if Paul’s instruction to the Philippians is correct that the antidote to anxiety is thanksgiving, can a grateful leader raise an entire organization’s effectiveness? I think so. The tone set by a leader is contagious. It flows throughout your church or ministry in ways that are both seen and unseen.

Perhaps you agree in theory, but you’re looking for practical steps to take. Consider these:

• Start with yourself. Set aside a time for deep, prayerful gratitude before starting your work day. Before thinking about all the things on your “to do list” or your worries, reflect on your blessings. Include personal and professional elements in your thanksgiving.

• Have a positive conversation. When you first arrive at the office try having a positive conversation with one staff member. Stop in their office and tell them something you appreciate about them and their work. Or ask them to tell you something good that is happening in their ministry.

• Start regular staff meetings with good news. Invite others to share something good that is happening in their lives or their “God sightings” in the congregation.

• Focus on God’s goodness. If your staff has a regular worship or devotional time, choose passages that focus on God’s grace, mercy, and abundant provision.

• Write notes of appreciation. This can be a personal or a staff-wide practice. The notes can be sent to staff members or people in the congregation. Just a couple of notes a week can have a profound impact.

Why wait? What are you thankful for right now?

Photo source: istock