On Saying Thank You

Thank you, thanking strangers, apologizing when you're a bad customer, encouraging disgruntled workers, travel thanks, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Colossians 3:15“Tell everyone you meet, ‘thank you.'”

Not a bad idea, but it wasn’t mine.

As I sat in my pink chair praying about an upcoming trip, that sentence popped into my mind.

Since no one else was home, obviously, it came from God.

Easy. I could do that.

But I thought the message silly. I always expressed my thanks to people who deserved it.

God wasn’t done: “Look the ticket taker on the Puget Sound ferry in the eye and say thank you.”

Make eye contact. Okay.

“Thank everyone. Particularly those who need it.”

Why wouldn’t I? 1 Thessalonians 5:18 spells it out clearly:

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Thank you, travel assistants.

Southwest Airlines held the plane two minutes so we could make it.

I rented the car effortlessly.

We thanked my brother-in-law for a night’s rest.

Thank you, thanking strangers, apologizing when you're a bad customer, encouraging disgruntled workers, travel thanks, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Colossians 3:15

By Tim Marshall (Unsplash.com)

Everyone took it in stride, but what would happen at the ferry terminal?

“Thank you, so much,” I said waiting to take my ticket until the person behind the window looked at me.

Nothing extraordinary, light did not shine down, angels didn’t sing.

“You’re welcome.”

Dismissed. I shook my head and returned to the car.

We traveled to Bremerton, no problems, and waved to the ferry operators when we drove off.

What was that all about?

It doesn’t matter. I just did what I was told to do.

Thank you, unhappy workers

Making eye contact and deliberately thanking people is a habit after all these years.

Whenever I visit a local story with miserable employees, I try to make friendly remarks while being checked out.

I wait for them to look at me when they pull off the receipt.

Then I smile and say thanks.

They usually smile back.

It’s a small thing, but I believe it helps cheer them up.

Thank you for your patience

The Thessalonian passage echoes through my life–particularly that last clause: in all circumstances.

Unfortunately, I am not perfect.

I frequently lose my patience in poorly handled business situations.

My caustic and cynical tongue knows how to lash.

But I’m supposed to be thankful.

Thank you, thanking strangers, apologizing when you're a bad customer, encouraging disgruntled workers, travel thanks, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Colossians 3:15

W Scribner (Wikipedia Commons)

I’m supposed to model Christ to all I meet–and be thankful.

Fortunately, I’m experienced in confessing sin and apologizing.

More than once, I’ve made a sarcastic remark to a hapless employee on the phone, or more recently at the inept pharmacy.

If my husband is there, he always reminds me to “be nice to the help.”

He’s right. It’s not their fault the system is stacked against them and me.

When I catch myself being harsh, I apologize: “I’m so sorry, I know this is not your fault. Forgive me.”

Many people have laughed and all have accepted my apology.

I make sure to thank them, “for your patience and so much for your help,” when I hang up or finish.

How’s it working out?

God loves a thankful heart.

Scripture is full of verses about being thankful.

When I confess my lack of thankfulness and look for reasons to be thankful, Colossians 3:15 steps in:

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”

It’s easier to be at peace if you practice thankfulness.

Especially to those who don’t always get it.


Giving thanks by God’s direction–even on the ferry. Click to Tweet

Apologizing and being thankful in stressful situations. Click to Tweet

Blessing others by being thankful in all circumstances. Click to Tweet

For those having difficulty writing a thank you note, consider this guide.

Leave a comment


  1. Hmmm. Wow. The arrow hit the mark. I am not a patient person and there have been times my sarcasm and my temper have overloaded my mouth. I once had to slink into the optometrists office and ask specifically for the person I had spoken with on the phone. I told her that if someone had spoken to me the way I spoke to her they would get their contacts the fifth of NEVER! I apologized.
    Last week I found myself at our local swanky hotel. The wait staff is impeccable but I found myself saying “May I please have some more water” and “Thank you SO much” when I was given it. It isn’t something I have given much thought to over the past 15 or so years, but it makes me feel better and especially when I notice those around me aren’t doing it. Who knows when a kindness will make all the difference to the person you give it to and cost you nothing.
    Thanks for reinforcing the message.

    • Michelle Ule

       /  February 7, 2017

      I’ve been doing this since the turn of the century and it’s surprising how good it makes me feel!

  2. Great post, Michelle, as so very true. The people who often are most deserving of our thanks, for making the details of our life go smoothly, are the last to receive it.

    • Michelle Ule

       /  February 7, 2017

      You understand this very well, Andrew. I know how much better I feel when someone notices a small act of kindness. So, I try to share that good feeling! LOL

  3. Linda

     /  February 7, 2017

    I make a point of noticing the name of anyone wearing a name tag and then thanking them by name. It usually brings a smile.

    • Michelle Ule

       /  February 7, 2017

      Excellent point, Linda, and also helpful to remember their names!

  4. Kizzie

     /  February 8, 2017

    I’ve always taken it for granted that we should thank those serving us.

    Michelle, it is hard to believe that you have a caustic tongue. You seem so sweet online. 🙂

    My mom could have a caustic tongue, & towards the end of her life she used it liberally against clerks & wait staff. I would be so embarrassed, & I would make extra sure to smile & thank the person at the end of the transaction.

    Regarding call people by their names, I’ve heard & read from clerks & wait staff who think it is creepy for someone to read their name & use it. I don’t know why, but many feel that way.

  5. Peggy Booher

     /  February 15, 2017

    Thank you for doing what God told you to do. I worked for around 25 years as a cashier/sales clerk. Often it seemed all I heard was negative. Most of the complaints were those I had no power to do anything about. Some days I wanted to walk out the door after waiting on a particular customer. Those times a customer smiled at me and said “Thank you” made the day brighter and more bearable.


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