If you want to stand out in this world, try becoming a more gracious person.
Across the culture, you can find angry, outraged people. Some may seem ready to cut you off because you don’t agree with them.
In contrast, a gracious person embodies the grace of God. These are not the people who with their snarky comments put down others. These are not the people who seem to always find fault.
Rather, these are people who live out the beauty of grace. They embody grace.
Gracious. Perhaps this word might be reserved for people who recognize they have been given much. Such people approach others much like God in Jesus – full of grace and truth.
So what is a gracious person?
- A gracious person is slow to take credit and quick to lavish praise. This person looks for opportunities to affirm and bless. He lavishes praise on those who are often taken for granted. A gracious person is slow to remind others of his own success.
- A gracious person never seeks to embarrass another. Humiliating another is not in this person’s vocabulary. She does not say something to embarrass another and then try to escape responsibility by saying, “I was only joking.” A gracious person receives no pleasure in seeing someone else squirm in discomfort or embarrassment.
- A gracious person thanks others regularly. Are there several people you need to thank today? Is there someone you could thank by e-mail, a phone call, or even in person?
- A gracious person doesn’t monopolize the conversation. Do you tend to go on and on with your story? Or, do you spend time and energy asking another questions and expressing interest in that person’s life? If you are in conversation for an hour, does this time reflect a healthy give and take or is it dominated by your own voice? I once witnessed a group in conversation. A facilitator was present, in part to make sure that no person dominated the conversation. I noticed one man who appeared to be unhappy. Often, he dominated conversations but with the facilitator present, he was not allowed to do so.
- A gracious person doesn’t play “one-upmanship.” (“That’s nothing. You should have seen what I did!”) A gracious person is not threatened by the attention someone else is getting.
- A gracious person pays attention to people. Sometimes people come away from such conversations saying, “He made me feel like I was such an important person.”
- A gracious person desires to say what is appropriate. She doesn’t feel compelled to express a momentary thought or impulse. There is no redeeming value in emptying one’s mind of whatever fleeting thought has landed at the moment.
- A gracious person looks out for the comfort of others. “Would you like a cup of coffee? What about a Coke? Can I get you a newspaper while I’m out?”
- A gracious person understands that he is not indispensable. Some people desire constant attention. They have a way of steering most any conversation toward themselves. Yet, there is humility in realizing that you are dispensable.
- A gracious person constantly points out the good she sees. Maybe you are visiting a friend who lives in another city. Instead of pointing out the inadequacies of your friend’s community, you call attention to what is good. “This cafe has outstanding peach pie!” “I just love the fountains in this city.” Gracious people look for good wherever it might be found.
Christian people are to speak and embody grace. Some people have been put off by Christians who speak of God’s grace and then treat others with an ungracious spirit. Grace makes people gracious, not mean. When Christians are mean-spirited or rude and manipulate people, their profession of grace carries little credibility with others.
On the other hand, gracious people model a life that is compelling and attractive. What is an upcoming situation in which you would like to model graciousness?