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3 Second Salisbury Steak Thank Yous

3 Second Salisbury Steak Thank Yous

Thank Yous and Salisbury Steak

It’s an idea I got from my sister, who got it from the amazing Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. One of the “Essential 55” rules used by award-winning educator Ron Clark to “take apathetic students and transform them into award-winning scholars” is this:

“Always say thank you when someone gives you something. If you do not say it within three seconds of receiving the item, I will take it back”[1].

Well, I’ve decided to use it as a rule to take naturally self-centered children and transform them into grateful disciples of Christ.

Or, at least, that was the plan.

So, the other night, when I handed both girls their plates of dinner of homemade Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes and green beans, each child had something to say.

And it most certainly was not thank-you.

DD2 complained that she didn’t want gravy on her meat, and began pouting. DD1 said she didn’t want potatoes, and immediately started nagging about whether or not she was going to get dessert.

Both had their dinners taken away.

They got to sit, without dinner, and watch Mom and Dad eat. It wasn’t until after the adults were done, and after the girls had demonstrated appropriate gratitude and a change of attitude, that they got to eat their meals.

They said “thank you” immediately for everything they were handed, the rest of the night.

I felt pretty good about my parenting skills.

Until I got to bed. Which is when the Lord always starts working with me. And when my devotion just happened to be on…


Really? Come on, Lord. Can I not just feel good about a lesson for my kids without it becoming a lesson for me, too?

Psalm 116:17: “I will sacrifice a thank offering to you…”.

Dang it. Totally a lesson for me.

An Attitude of Gratitude

I started thinking about my kids’ responses that night, and about my own. And I realized that I do exactly the same thing. He gives me blessings every single day. His compassions are new every morning, and I either ask for something more, complain about what I’ve been given, or simply neglect to thank him all together. He gives me homemade Salisbury steak, and I complain that it has gravy on it. He gives me a three-course meal, and I ask Him what He’s going to give me for dessert.

Just that very day, I had been blessed by the opportunity homeschool my girls and be home with them during every part of their growing up. Yet I had complained to the Lord about my frustration with DD2’s lack of focus on our devotion time. I had driven around in a relatively new van and come home to a wonderful three-bedroom home, but had prayed that the Lord would help alleviate some of our financial burdens.

It’s not that there is anything wrong with me praying for concerns that I have – there’s not, and I know the Lord wants me to come to Him with everything. It’s that my attitude is just like that of my kids: focused on what I don’t have, or what I don’t like, rather than on the overwhelming things that I do.

It’s been a problem of humanity since the dawn of time.

Adam and Eve were surrounded by a garden of perfection and beauty, possessed authority over all of creation, enjoyed the personal presence of the Lord every day, and found communion with one another. The only thing they lacked was…

The forbidden fruit. The knowledge, the experience, of evil. Yet, that is what they wanted – the one thing they didn’t have. Their focus on their perceived deficit cost them, and every human being after them, the blessings of life, forever.

The ultimate sin of humanity was the sin of ingratitude.

What Giving Thanks Does

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18).”

Adam and Eve’s ingratitude helps put in perspective just how important thanksgiving is. It affects nothing less than our entire outlook on life. If we focus on what we don’t have, or what we’d like to have, we will only see the deficit, and we will orient our lives around that perceived deficit. But if we focus on Him, and on the blessings He provides every moment, we will begin to see life as a sea of good. A sea of good with only pieces of driftwood bad in it, that will eventually be broken up by the Father and become part of the ocean of His goodness.

Thanksgiving, both for my kids and for myself, puts us in the place to see our blessings rather than our deficiencies. It helps us to focus on what we have rather than what we lack. And it reminds us that, in the hand of the Father, who is good, even what we perceive we lack can be fulfilled completely.

I lack my baby boy. But I have two beautiful daughters. And a husband who loves me. And family who lives close by. And an amazing church family. And the chance to homeschool. And three very yummy and nutritious meals a day. And clean water that comes out of my multiple faucets. And…

Well, you should make your own “have” list.

In talking of the Lord’s restoration of Israel, Jeremiah 33:10-11 says, “…There will be heard once more 11 the sounds of joy and gladness…and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord, saying, “Give thanks to the Lord Almighty, for the Lord is good; his love endures forever.”

Those who bring thank offerings have joy and gladness. Giving thanks isn’t just for God’s benefit – it’s for ours.

Just like my kids, I have to make it a practice. An intentional discipline. A continuous effort of saying “thank you” to the Father, and offering a sacrifice of gratitude, throughout everything that happens. Maybe I should even institute the “3-second rule” for myself. Every time I notice a blessing, to say thank you to the Lord within 3 seconds. Yep, I think it could revolutionize my attitude about life. This rule about giving thanks isn’t just Ron Clark’s rule for better students…

It’s God’s rule for more joyful people.

The kids and me both, we’re going to work on giving thanks. To focus on the Salisbury steak rather than the lack of gravy. To enjoy the mashed potatoes rather than wish for a sweet treat.

I can do that. Because, at the end of the meal, without me even asking for it, I’m going to get the best dessert ever.

[1] Clark, R. (2003). The Essential 55: An Award-Winning Educator’s Rules for Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child. New York: Hyterion Books.

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