May 15, 2006
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank

Dear Marketplace Friend,

So, how was it? For the Jewish folks who lived in Jesus' days, there were a few key holidays each week that drew all of the crowd to Jerusalem. Passover, Tabernacles, First Fruits, Trumpets, Unleavened Bread; these were stop-what-you're-doing dates on the calendar for the devout to converge on the Temple and show they were serious about their spiritual lives.

For Christian church attenders, there are four weekends when their attendance is not optional. Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving and Mother's Day are the can't-miss moments when excuses aren't allowed...

So, how was it? Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland, in real life) has put more in a day - in 24 - than most humans will ever attempt. But, on our critical holidays, we act like adventure/action heroes, jammin' to get as much in a day as is remotely possible. If you're married, you likely have loyalties that point you down three separate paths on the important weekend holidays: it's your upline, your spouse's upline... and, then, with whatever shreds of time you have left, the family around your hearth. Christmas? Easter? Thanksgiving? Most wouldn't imagine leaving the dining room table at home for the main meal. Mother's Day? It's either dad-at-the-barbeque or dinner out. Reservations at a killer restaurant... or you'd better check the propane tank on the grill. There are certain expectations that are nonnegotiable.

So, how was it, for you? It was one of my infrequent appearances at our home church, in the family pew, surrounded by the three women who occupied my home for a quarter century. Cheri and both daughters are Mothers, unified through the childbirth experience. I shared the burden of honor with my sons-in-law as the afternoon unfolded. They joined me in applauding the lifelong commitment of our wives to be the mothers of our children. What does a father say to his daughters on Mother's Day? I found myself affirming them for their excellent execution as mothers, expressed toward my grandchildren, who benefit from their maternal care on a moment-by-moment watch.

Days like Mother's Day force us to be better people. Why? It's this simple: we are prone to operate with disparity in our relational communications. We shout our "Please!" when we are in need... but, we whisper our "Thank You" when we get what we wanted. Our demands are incessant, but our gratitude is very occasional. Unless forced to own-up to our dependence on the people around us, we are likely to live as if we really are self-made people who get by without the benevolence of others.

I talked to my mother-in-law on Saturday and told her how grateful I am for her motherhood of her family (including me). She's the surviving mother in the older generation of our clan, and she deserves the acclaim. I told Cheri today what a great job she's done as the mom in our mix; she tried to implicate me in honor, but I wouldn't allow that. She's set the bar pretty high, but she modeled motherhood for our daughters to practice in the next generation. I told Shannon and Erin that they're making us proud, and that their kiddos show their imprint already. That's how it has been today, for me...

Beyond Mother's Day, there's a principle worth capturing. We shout our "Please!," but whisper our "Thank Yous." I want to - consciously - make my "Thank You" resonate at the same decibel level as my pleas for attention.

A couple of weeks ago, I shot a "Please!" out to y'all. My annual Golf Challenge appeal landed with a shout. It's like direct mail, I suppose: about 3% of y'all hit "reply" and pledged support. Result? A third of the donations we need each year for The Master's Program were raised through those replies. Those folks are getting a receipt and a note in the "snail mail" pile, but it occurred to me that - for the other 97% - they only heard my "Please!" Shouldn't they hear my "Thank You," as well?

In this Point of View, I get to tell you what I told my family's Mothers today. I also get to tell you what I'm telling our supporters this week. Thank you. I want to model gratitude... in a world that's used to hearing appeals seldom followed by thanksgiving. It's what the mothers in my life have taught me to do...

Bob Shank

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