Two quick stories:

Last week I began reading a new book from a scholar I have long admired. We’ve only met in passing and I’m almost certain he would not remember me. Nonetheless, I’ve appreciated his work for years and learned much from it. So in a brief fit of thoughtfulness, I took approximately twenty seconds to drop him an email:

Dear X,

We don’t know each other, but I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your work.

I just grabbed your new volume on [x] and began working through it this morning.

I learn things each time I read your stuff and I just wanted to pass along a word of thanks!

All the best, Josh

Now, scholars are busy, and as a species we’re not known for always being “prompt” with email correspondence. But I was surprised to see that—despite being on completely different continents—he responded to say how much my note meant.

Story two: A few days ago, after worship in our university chapel, I overheard our campus pastor telling a student how grateful she was for this student’s ministry through music and in other ways. The student is truly gifted, and I know she has overcome real challenges—as many of our students have—to finish her degree.

The comment from our pastor jogged my memory that I had meant to drop this student a note of thanks a few weeks back just as I had done for this senior scholar. But of course, I had forgotten. Like I said: We’re not known for always being “prompt” with email correspondence.

In any case, I remembered then. I told her specifically what I had appreciated about her leadership. In response, she started crying and said—much like the senior scholar—how much it meant.

I pass along these two stories not because I am the walking spiritual embodiment of a Hallmark Card. (I’m not. And on the same day as these two stories, I also sent a rather grumpy email to my superiors on something that had irked me.) I note these two occurrences only because I was struck by how little time and effort was required to tell someone a simple, and sincere word of “thanks.”

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