G Before A Especially for Those in C – Leadership Through Thanksgiving
I Before E Except After C
Who remembers a little mnemonic device you likely learned in elementary school that I still use today: I before E except after C. Remember that one?
Recalling that little ditty has served me well. I find myself mumbling it under my breath when I spell words like “receive” and “believe”. Like that memory device was for me, I want to teach you a new one that will serve us well as we lead men: G before A especially to those in C.
It means, Gratitude before Admonishment especially to those whom God has entrusted to us in Christ. It was modeled by one of the all time great leaders of men, the Apostle Paul. Paul didn’t need a special national holiday to find the need to be thankful. He expressed it continually to His God and then to those (mostly) Gentile Christians who were disbursed throughout the lands in and between Europe and Israel. Here are just a few examples of how Paul began each of his letters to those in churches around the world at that time:
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, (I Cor 1:4, ESV)
You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. (2 Cor 1:11, ESV)
I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, (Eph 1:16, ESV)
I thank my God fin all my remembrance of you, (Phil 1:3, ESV)
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, (Col 1:3, ESV)
There are plenty more references of gratitude from Paul to his audience. Notice anything about each of these verses? They all occur within the first few sentences or paragraphs of Paul’s letters. After he properly acknowledges the power, divinity and saving grace of “God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ” in his opening of every letter, he almost always starts out his letters with how thankful he is for them. Interestingly enough, the only letter of the 4 Pauline Epistles that he doesn’t thank his readers is to the church in Galatia. There, Paul wastes no time to get into the meat of their egregious turning from the Gospel he had brought to them to a gospel that was completely false and leading them away from Christ. But in all of his other letters, giving thanks to those he was writing to and for was addressed early.
3 Principles We Glean From Paul’s “Thankfulness”
I see three things that stand out to me and remind me of how I need to lead the men God has entrusted to me:
1. Be thankful to God for those I lead. It’s important for me to be in continual prayer for the people God has given me to lead. Why? Because I need his guidance to lead well. My gratitude to God for my family and men I am privileged to lead must precede anything else I do. It puts me in the right position of submission, first to Him. and then I can accept the heavy responsibility of leading others with humility and a servants heart.
2. Overtly express my gratitude to those I lead. We taught our children early on that saying “Thank You” when they received something was a rule. No exceptions. Unexpressed gratitude is no gratitude at all. Forced gratitude may not be the answer (like we taught our children to say “thank you” even if they didn’t feel thankful), but it taught our children a principle that they have now embraced for themselves and has served them well as they’ve grown into adulthood: Expressed gratitude is good for both the receiver and the giver. Saying “thank you” is always good for our souls and being thankful TO God for them helps us, once again, keep things in the right order, even when we don’t feel thankful. When I understand that God doesn’t do things capriciously or by accident, I can be “thankful in all circumstances”, even for people hard to thank.
3. Leaders speak truth in love. As the Galatians had strayed from the core of the Gospel, Paul didn’t mince words with those he loved in all of his letters because they were being disobedient to Christ or practicing things that were or would be detrimental to their faith. His love for them IN CHRIST compelled him to share this hard message. So it is with us. There are times we must address the actions of those we lead because their actions are or are becoming detrimental to themselves, their faith and the faith of those around them. But, if we enter into that conversation without proper motives and a right heart, we will likely end up hurting the one we lead and our relationship and eliciting any change in them.
The Benefits of Leadership Through Gratitude
When we lead men in this manner, we are leading as Paul and Christ did. There is no guarantee that you will be heralded as a great leader by following these principles but you will find that you will be at peace with your leadership and focused on the things that are important. And, I do believe you will receive great respect from those who follow your leadership, especially THE Leader, our God.
I before E except after C has served me well for what it was intended, i.e., it helps me spell. As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, maybe we’ll remember this little memory device, “G before A especially to those whom God has given us in C” so that we remember we need to be thankful 24/7 365.
Jeff Abramovitz is the Executive Director of JLA Minsitries, a member of NCMM as a ministry dedicated to using online and personal strategies to help men grow in their understanding of who they are in Christ to lead their families, communities and businesses as Christ would. He also has a podcast called the DadPOD and writes a blog called the DadPad.