Monday, March 30, 2009

The application of appreciation


It’s an interesting thing.

I think on some level I want it. At least I think I want it.

At work, the appreciation I crave in response to the efforts I put forth comes mostly in the form of “show me the money.” If I do a good job, I don’t need my boss or anyone else to tell me so. Just give me a raise. Or a bonus.

At church, which is the other major occupier of my life, I certainly don’t expect to get paid for anything I do. Here again, I don’t need anyone to tell me how wonderful I am or to tell me how much they love what I’ve done. Words of affirmation are definitely not my love language. I just don’t need you to tell me how wonderful I am.

Actually, if you do tell me, it makes me uncomfortable.

So why do I those things? This is where it gets complicated for me.

Do I do things merely out of obligation? Well, at work, yes, much of it is an obligation. I was contracted for certain tasks when I agreed to take the job. There are a lot of things I do that go beyond my job description. That’s my integrity and my hope for the future. Surely that extra effort will pay off somewhere down the road either in a new pay grade or a new position.

On the church side, do I still do things out of obligation or do I have another more sincere motive?

Most of what I volunteer for at church, I do because I want to serve God. It gives me joy to do them regardless of what anyone else thinks. There are some things at church, however, that I just don’t feel like doing but I believe that doing them is the right thing to do. I know that loving people and serving them is what God has commanded me to do. I don’t always feel like doing that, but I know that I have to keep going through the motions until the feeling part follows. And it almost always does.

The contrary is also true. The feeling of love and appreciation usually never comes if I haven’t already been trying to get through the” doing” part of it.

Even more confusing for me is how other people love and serve me. Just how DO I want people to appreciate me?

I say that I don’t really want other people’s appreciation of me if it is not sincere. If you can’t really appreciate me or the things that I’ve done, then I certainly don’t want you to lie to me and tell me you love me or that you’re thankful for what I do. I don’t want you buying me gifts that are completely wrong for me just because it’s a special gift-giving occasion. If you really knew me enough to honestly love and appreciate me you would know that I do not like that color or that I already have three of those. It doesn’t really matter if it’s words or gifts; if they don’t personally fit me, I just don’t want them.

Yes, there are people out there who can’t appreciate who I am or the things that I do. Imagine that.

And, yes (especially since I live in the Old South), there are people who carry on the pretentious effort of keeping up appearances. Appalling, I know.

So that business about going through the motions until the true love and appreciation catches up, does that not apply to these folks too? Do I allow them the courtesy of going through the motions until the true emotions of love and appreciation emerge?

Well, if I don’t want to be hypocritical, then I guess I have to, don’t I??

What makes me sad is that perhaps I haven’t loved or served these people as much as I should have. I haven’t been the example to them that would teach them how to truly love and appreciate others. If I were a better friend to them, then they would be too.

I guess that makes me guilty one. I think they might be able to appreciate that.

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:9-11

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