Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Cheap Power

My electricity bill is higher than usual this month, but Christmas lights on the house are worth it. And, while my gasoline costs are going up and up, the freedom and mobility my car affords is worth it. The fact is, while I wish I had an unlimited supply of cheap power, the benefits of power - in this case, electric and automotive - are worth the price I have to pay. But just recently I was reminded that there is an amazing source of power - in this case, personal and social - that comes at almost no cost.

My Dad was an amazing man, a good and faithful man, with principles that were to his life's message what bones were to his body. They held him together, held him high in the esteem of those who knew him, and afforded him real, personal power. Now, right at the start I need to tell you that in this context "power" is a good thing. It is not manipulative power, or abusive power, or tryannical power. I am talking about the power to improve our lives and the lives of those around us. One of my Dad's principles was never to miss the chance to say thanks. He was always gracious when receiving, and genuine in his rush to let the giver know how much the gift was appreciated.

Sadly, we are dangerously close to losing that simple courtesy in our society. Ever notice how few of the children remember to say "thanks" let alone be genuinely thankful? Unfortunately, they are learning it from us, as we have spent our lives "looking out for #1" so much that we have become expectant rather than thankful, assuming rather than grateful, and increasingly oblivious to the fact that the thankful heart is not only a joyful heart, but also an amazing source of power. Think about it: During the Christmas season, how many plates of cookies, tins of candy, Starbucks gift cards, and other assorted expressions of friendship did you recieve? And how many presents did you unwrap on Christmas? What do you think would have happened if, for each one, you took the time to write a simple, personal, and genuine note thanking the giver for their thoughtfulness, and friendship? For starters, you would be one more hand added to the effort to maintain a civil and gracious society. But beyond that, your small investment would have great power in the lives of those who, while reading your notes, would be reminded that loving, and being loved is the only fountain of meaning in this life.

I like to think of it as cheap power. Take 5 minutes, add some genuine expressions of thankfulness, mix in a sincere interest in the giver, and some sprinkles of appreciation. Write it or type it and invest the 39 cents. Now that's pretty cheap power, and the best thing about it is that this kind of power is not a zero sum situation. Unlike gasoline, the more thankfulness you extend, the more you'll find in your own tank. Wow, cheap and renewable all in one! So how about it? Does your sister-in-law know how much your kids enjoyed the presents the cousins sent? Did you let your boss know that you greatly appreciated the gift card? Maybe we can all keep learning from my Dad: "Never miss a chance to say thank you; you'll be amazed at how it will lift their spirits." Now that's power.

Hope this helps,

David W. Hegg


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