Am I a Grateful Leader?

 “Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.” —Henry Ward Beecher


Historians tell of an incident involving the Persian king Xerxes. After his victory over the Greeks at Salamis, the king and many of his men boarded a Phoenician ship for home when a terrible storm came upon them. The captain of the ship advised the king that unless the ship’s load be lightened, they’d all perish.

The king turned to his men and said, “It is on you that my safety depends. Let some of you show your regard for your king!” Several of his men threw themselves overboard.

The ship made it safely to shore. King Xerxes had the captain rewarded, placing a crown of gold on his head—and then promptly ordered him beheaded for causing the death of so many Persians. So much for gratefulness!

Gratefulness is one of the most important characteristics a leader can possess. While team members look to you for vision and direction as to where you’re headed, the atmosphere you create in getting there is every bit as important.

Not only is gratefulness necessary in the work environment, it’s good for us! Studies have shown that being grateful improves our physical and emotional health. It boosts our immune system and increases blood supply to our heart. People who have kept a gratitude journal report increased alertness, enthusiasm, and improved sleep. What’s not to love about being grateful?

But gratitude doesn’t always come naturally. There’s a story in Luke’s gospel which paints the picture. On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus approached a village where He met 10 men suffering from leprosy. In Jesus’ day, nothing was as pitiable as leprosy.

“Anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as they have the disease they remain unclean. They must live alone; they must live outside the camp” (Leviticus 13:45-46).

This explains why Luke introduced them as he did: They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” (Luke 17:12-13).

Jesus heals them. He sends them to the priest—as was required by the law—so they could officially be deemed clean. It’s not a stretch to say Jesus gave these 10 men new life—restored to family, community, and the practices of their faith, all of which leprosy had deprived them for years. But the story continues:

“One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?’” (Luke 17:15-17)

They’d obviously moved on into their new lives—no time to be thankful.

Gratitude isn’t just a good idea. It’s a command: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). It’s good for you, and it’s great for those around you.


My prayer this week—Lord, will you cultivate a more grateful heart in me? Will you make me a grateful leader? Will you help me recognize those around me and express my gratitude to them?