Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Mommy, What Does GRACIOUS Mean?

I was talking to my daughter about how to eat properly and she said that Belle (oh please don't ask me why we ever let our daughters watch Disney princess movies - they have become OBSESSED with princess!) picked up the bowl and drank out of it. I mentioned that was because she was being gracious and my daughter asked what gracious meant.

I am quickly realizing that there are a whole SLEW of words that you just come to know and understand what they mean without truly knowing what they mean. So I had to look up the definition on the computer. In doing so I came across a great page that talks about ten characteristics of a gracious person. These are GREAT! I am thinking of printing them out and hanging them where I can see them and be reminded of how I want to be.

Because the web is ever changing and pages are ever leaving us, I am going to include the ten here. And afterwards, include some others written by others in the comments to the original post.

Ten Characteristics of a Gracious Person

Gracious … Now I like that word. Not a Terrell Owens or Randy Moss word. No, this word is reserved for people who recognize that they are privileged to receive what they have been given. A gracious person is wonderful just to be around. So what is a gracious person?

  • A gracious person is slow to take credit and quick to lavish praise.
  • A gracious person never seeks to embarrass another. Humiliating another is not in this person’s vocabulary. (And please … don’t say something that humiliates another and then try to escape responsibility by saying, "I was only joking.")
  • A gracious person is always thanking others. Do you go through an entire day without thanking another?
  • A gracious person doesn’t monopolize the conversation. Someone else has something to offer.
  • A gracious person doesn’t try to play "one up-manship." ("That’s nothing, you should have seen what I did!")
  • A gracious person pays attention to people. Sometimes people come away from such conversations saying, "He made me feel like I was the most important person at that moment."
  • A gracious person desires to say what is appropriate. He doesn’t just say what is on his mind or whatever he might be thinking. (There is no redeeming value in emptying one’s mind of whatever fleeting thought has happened to land 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?" etc.
  • A gracious person understands that she is not indispensable. You’ve seen this person. She desires constant attention. She has a way of constantly focusing most any conversation back on herself. There is a humility in realizing that you are dispensable.
  • A gracious person constantly points out the good that he sees. Maybe you are visiting a friend who lives in another place. Instead of pointing out the inadequacies of your friend’s community, you are constantly finding things that are good. "This cafe has outstanding peach pie! That was delicious." "I just love the way you have planted your garden. It is beautiful!" Gracious people look for the good.

This is actually a post from October 2005. Why post it again? Because of a few comments that have been made regarding this piece. This was published in the Waco Tribune Herald shortly after it was posted on my blog. One gentleman told me a few weeks later that someone had placed the newspaper article on the wall in the rehab center at nearby Providence Hospital. A few weeks ago, a local anesthesiologist told me that it had been posted on the door of the operating room. He said, "I’ve read it several times before going in." An older gentleman in our church died of cancer in the last year. Before his death, he sent a copy of this piece to each of his grandchildren.

Why this response? I believe that in so many of us, there is a genuine hunger to experience the beauty of graciousness. After all, it is nothing more than grace lived out. And — that grace originates in the heart of God.

(I’m curious, what would you add to this list of ten? I suspect you could add another characteristic of a gracious person that might be helpful to us all.)

I might add that a gracious person really doesn’t care who gets credit, so long as the job is done. Gracious people don’t keep score.
Greg England

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