“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.” Luke 17:15-16
When asked to name someone who you would consider to be a grateful person, does an answer come easily to you? I met someone this past weekend that quickly fits that category. His name is Bob Tebow, and he is Tim Tebow’s dad. Jase and I were privileged enough to be partnered up with him and a few of his buddies for a round of golf. We’ve been part of the annual weekend that benefits the Tim Tebow Foundation for a few years and understand that this day is not limited to just playing golf. Since the foundation largely benefits sick and dying children, the walkways on each hole are lined with these children and their families along with supporters who pay a fee to watch the celebrities play golf. All the money raised goes to support these children. At each hole, Mr. Bob would walk up to the crowd and say in a loud voice, “Thank you for supporting the foundation today!” or “We appreciate all you do in helping us!” and “So glad you came out today!” He would walk up to each child, wrap his arms around them and hug them, kiss them multiple times like they were his own grandchildren and say, “I love you so much,” and “Do you know how special you are?” He did this for hours. He also greeted and thanked all the volunteers stationed at each hole who facilitated the games and concessions. They would ask him, “How are you today, Mr. Bob?” He would say, “Doing great! Wish I could say the same for my golf game,” all while grinning and hugging them. Jase and I also met the families, greeted the volunteers, hugged the children, took plenty of pictures and signed autographs. But the main difference I want to convey to you is that this was much harder to do for Mr. Bob. See, the night before at the celebrity dinner, Tim shared with us that his dad was diagnosed this past year with Parkinson’s Disease. Simple tasks have become more difficult for him, and he has become markedly weaker. Bending down to hug and look directly into the eyes of a child in a wheelchair was obviously important to him, but I realized what a task this must have been to a weakening body. Yet, this man went all day encouraging other people in their illnesses and weaknesses and never complained once about his own. In fact, he did the exact opposite.
(This sweetie couldn't hold her eyes open any longer as her condition has taken a toll on her body.)
(Kids and their families look forward to this event every year and love to get high fives from their favorite celebrities!)
(Timmy's W15H kids are the special guests of this annual event.)
The weekend before, I attended the Hillsong church in Manhattan. (Yes, the worship was amazing!) The pastor’s lesson was about gratefulness. Maybe that’s why it’s been on my heart these past few days. His points have stuck with me since. He said there are three enemies of gratefulness:
- The enemy of entitlement – He said, “When your level of gratefulness is high, your sense of entitlement (or expectations) is low. When your sense of entitlement is high, your gratefulness is low.” What does your set of scales tell you?
- The enemy of complaining – When we are complaining about our current situation, it is merely impossible to be grateful for it. How are we supposed to be grateful for disappointments? When you trust that God knows exactly what He’s doing in your life, it becomes easier. Start with Romans 5:3-4, “…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope”.
- The enemy of comparing – It is extremely difficult to be thankful when you’re silently comparing your body, your car, your closet, your house or your health with someone else’s. There will always be someone with “better” everything! When we focus on what we have and how we can use it for God, gratefulness will be the result.
Long before General Colin Powell was George W. Bush’s Secretary of State and while working in a much lower position of government, he drove himself to work each day and gave his keys to the valet. At the end of the work day, many people would be lined up in front of him to have their cars retrieved, but he was immediately approached by the valet for his ticket followed by the timely retrieval of his car. After a few days of this same routine, he finally asked the valet why his car was being delivered before all the other people in the line. The valet told him that the valets decided that whoever says, “thank you”, to them in the mornings when dropping off their car will be moved to the front of the line when retrieving their car in the afternoons. Colin Powell’s car was being delivered first, not because of his status or power (which he had little of at that point in his life) but because of his kindness and gratefulness to those doing a very simple task. Some would argue that a thank you isn’t warranted when you pay someone to do a job or when it is expected of that person to execute a task for you.
I Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
People want to feel valued. Sure, waiters and waitresses are being paid and tipped for their service, but when you say “thank you” to a person refilling your water glass or serving your food, you’re showing them gratitude. Is it expected? No. But as a Christian, it can show him or her that you value them.
How did you feel when you gave a birthday or Christmas gift to someone in your family and they never said thank you? Were you expected to give the gift? Most likely, yes. But when that person opens it, throws the paper on the floor, sets the gift aside and moves to the next box, there is a lack of gratefulness clearly displayed for all to see. Do you give gifts for the “thank you”? Well, if you do, you will be disappointed far more times in your life than you can ever dream. But it sure is nice to be appreciated, isn’t it? Even if it’s expected of you.
Mr. Bob showed his heart of gratefulness on a consistent basis all through that day. Even though we spent only a few hours with him, I got the feeling that I witnessed only a glimpse into a life that portrays gratefulness each and every day. In between these moments of verbal gratefulness, he shared spiritual nuggets of wisdom with Jase and me, all while showing outward signs of weakness as he shook from his Parkinson’s. His serving, humble, quiet demeanor was also filled with humor and confidence in his Savior.
Mr. Bob understands that even though his body is deteriorating and shaking from Parkinson’s Disease, he will use every moment he has left on this earth to do his part in strengthening the kingdom of God.
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful…” Romans 12:28
And for that alone, we should live a grateful life, just like Mr. Bob Tebow.
(Even after 18 holes of golf and a thousand hugs, Mr. Bob still took a smiling selfie with me.)