This is Part 2 of 2 parts of the article, “When not to say “Thank you.”
Jesus gave an interesting account in the book of Luke,
7 “And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, `Come at once and sit down to eat ‘? 8 “But will he not rather say to him, `Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink ‘? 9 “Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. 10 “So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, `We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.'” (Luke 17:7-10 NKJ)
In other words, when a person of higher authority is served by someone under his authority, a “thank you” is not appropriate. Why? Because the one in authority is not dependent on the person under authority and the servant did what was required of him. This may be difficult to understand, because we have a culture of passivity and just trying to get along. We often don’t think about the long-term ramifications of how this can influence thinking. Let me give you an example that would seem obvious, in order to get to the point of this article.
Let’s say a General said to a private, “Thanks for digging your foxhole.” Later he said to the private, “Thanks for shooting at the enemy.” And still later he said, “Thanks for driving the truck well.” After a while the private is going to think he is an equal to the general and expect to be thanked. He will likely expect the general to include him in decision-making! Wasn’t the private just doing what was “required of him”?
The analogy is true for parenting also. We parents often “thank” our children for doing the right thing. But think about it. We think we are being nice and wanting the children to do the right “thing” again, so we say thank you. Unfortunately, that puts the parent dependent on the child and shows respect to the child, which in this case is not appropriate. That may be appropriate in a very few cases, but most of the time it is not. It actually feeds the pride of the child and elevates the child to a higher level than the parent. Should the parent say anything? Of course!
Instead of saying “thank you,” for everything the child does, say, “Good job!” or “You did well setting the table.” Acknowledge the action, but do not thank the child for doing what he is supposed to do. He is doing “what is required of him” as the Lord Jesus taught!
We live in a culture where the roles are being reversed. Parents are not raising their children; they are being raised by their children. And what happens? Children think too highly of themselves (in many cases). Children expect parents to get them new clothes, or give them treats after dinner, or get them new toys, or taxi them to all their activities.
Instead of learning humility and denying themselves, children learn that people are dependent on them and they are (or should be) in charge! It’s all too common in our culture today! Do you know any children like that? Do you know any parents who are making parental mistakes?
1 http://etiquetteadvantage.ca/resources/gratitude/ accessed on November 17, 2014.