An important aspect of any business relationship is knowing how to say a proper thank you. In our increasingly digital world, the temptation may be to dash off a quick email: “Hey Bob, thanks for the tour around town today. Appreciated it. Cheers!”
But let’s face it, that compared with a properly thought out and perhaps even handwritten note is the difference between a fine cabernet and strawberry wine. It may be sweet, but it’s not particularly classy. Taking the time to put pen to paper means a lot.
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”.
They’ve been around
Thank you notes are not a new concept. When St. Paul was in prison in Philippi, he received crucial help from church members there, and the letter he wrote to thank them contained the very elements we should include in our notes today. Plus, following a tried-and-true formula can take some of the angst out of the chore.
Begin with a greeting
A great note should contain a greeting, which tradition dictates should begin, “Dear.” Some say that’s too intimate as well as a bit stuffy, but business etiquette experts point out it’s been the standard correspondence greeting among members of polite society since the 1500s. Consultants agree you can’t go wrong with a formal approach. While St. Paul didn’t begin his famous letters with the word “dear,” his approach was certainly formal (not to mention inspired). Let’s look closely at his letter to the Philippians, which begins:
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”(Phil. 1:2).
Certainly a better approach than, “Hey Bob!”
Get your thanks in right away, in detail
Your words of thanks should follow directly after your greeting. Be specific and go into detail. “Just wanted to say thanks,” is not enough. Let the recipient know why you are grateful. Again, St. Paul nails it. He thanks God for those he’s addressing and lets them know in uncertain terms how much he appreciates them as “partners” in grace (Phil. 1:5-7). St. Paul doesn’t specifically say the words “thank you,” but his gratitude certainly shines through. Plus, he later offers details on why their actions stood out above the rest:
“When I left Macedonia, not a single church shared with me in an account of giving and receiving except you alone” (Phil. 4:15).
Details make the letter much more meaningful.
Be forward thinking
It can be beneficial to look to the future as well. In our letter to Bob, we might mention a future time when we can return a favor or work together again, which is relationship building. St. Paul uses this moment to offer reassurance:
“My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).
“I am very well supplied because of what I received from you”.
Say it again
As he nears the end of his letter, St. Paul takes the time to restate his thanks:
“I rejoice greatly in the Lord that now at last you revived your concern for me…it was kind of you to share in my distress…. I am very well supplied because of what I received from you” (Phi. 4:10, 4:18).
Heartfelt sign-off is always important
And finally, he sends his regards:
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit” (Phil. 4:23).
You might end yours with a simple, yet heartfelt, “Sincerely,” or even, “Yours in Christ,” depending on the recipient.
Remember, St. Paul – or his scribe – likely had to write with a stylus on clay or wax, but you have the benefit of the ballpoint pen. Make sure you have appropriate cards or stationery on hand, buy Forever Stamps in bulk and know where the nearest post office box is located so you’ll no longer have an excuse not to do the right thing.
Monica Hannan is a television news anchor and author of the book, Gift of Death – A Message of Comfort and Hope.
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