I have a dear friend named John.

(Yes, there are a lot of us.)

When John was nine, a fire exploded in his garage, and left him with burns on 100% of his body.

Doctors gave him a 1% chance of surviving—yet he did. And after enduring months in a hospital bed and years of physical therapy, John woke up to what really matters in life.

Now he is an authorkeynote speaker, and (soon-to-be) movie star.

But today, I wish to share a recent experience of his.

In John’s own (beautiful) words…

“[My audience was given] a simple challenge: Before you go to bed tonight, write a letter, send an email, shoot a text or make a call to whomever that person is. Tell her thank you. Share with him the impact he made. But do it today.

After the presentation, I signed books, shook hands, gave hugs and flew home. That was it.


A couple weeks later, I got an email from a fire chief in a small community south of Tacoma. He shared that he was at the event and totally moved by the experience. And he shared that he took my challenge to reach out to his first fire chief. This older chief had taught him how to lead, serve and love the people he served with. This chief changed his life.

They spoke from the conference that night, met for coffee that Thursday, spent two hours catching up, and then they went their own ways. Before hopping into his truck, the young fire chief told his mentor, “Thank you, I love you, and you changed my life. Just wanted you to know it.”

Four days later, on Sunday morning, this young man learned that the long-serving fire chief had suffered a heart attack and died unexpectedly late Saturday night.

My friends, one of the heroes in my life, my grandfather, used to love the song, IN THE LIVING YEARS. He would roll down the windows in his old Lincoln, put the tape of it in, blare the sound and sing along. It’s a song about living, loving and sharing in a way today, right now, with such boldness knowing that tomorrow is not guaranteed. It isn’t promised to us. And it’s not promised to others.

So here is my challenge to you: Spend a minute reflecting on individuals who have impacted your life.

Then today, right now in fact, take 30 seconds to call, tweet, post, text, email, send a freaking honing pigeon, do whatever, but let them know you appreciate them.

Let them know you love them. Let them know that your life is better today because they were part of it.

And let them see the astonishing light they have provided for you, just by being them. Say it loud. Say it clear. But say it today.”   [SOURCE]

[Ruhlin speaking now]

Ladies & gentlemen, a great enemy of our time is UNEXPRESSED GRATITUDE.

In our private thoughts. Our personal lives. And professional careers.

  • Withheld gratitude creates unfinished business in relationships.
  • And, what’s worse, the unappreciated can’t even bring it up.
  • Because they don’t want to look like a child, in need of coddling.

As Pastor Andy Stanley so eloquently put it:

“Few things sting more than ingratitude. Ingratitude communicates I don’t even see you. I don’t recognize what you’ve done. I don’t recognize your effort. I don’t recognize your sacrifice.

Ingratitude communicates: ‘You owed me that so why would I thank you for that??’

Ingratitude hurts. Which is odd, because the other person really didn’t do anything to us. They just didn’t do ANYTHING. You thought they would hit the tennis ball back. But they just stood there and let it bounce against the fence behind them.

And that’s the odd thing about ingratitude: the recipient is always aware. But the culprit is rarely aware.”

Friends… I’m not telling you anything new here. You know this to be true.

What really matters is who we care for. And who has cared for us.