In general there are two responses a person gives when someone says “thank you.” 1) we can say “you’re welcome.” Or 2) we shrug it off with comments like “it was nothing” or “don’t mention it.” One of the things I tend say when someone thanks me for something is “well you know me, I do what I can.” Which is almost worse because it’s like saying “yeah, I know. I’m that good.” It’s not only refusing thanks but it does so in an extremely not-humble kind of way.
Anyways, here are reasons why refusing thanks is bad.
1 – you diminish the problem of the person you helped. Someone is saying “thank you” for a reason, namely you helped them with something. By refusing thanks you basically say “that problem was no big deal, and it wasn’t a big deal for me to help you. I don’t know why it bothered you at all.”
2 – you deny the person the opportunity to be grateful. Yeah weird right? But this is a big deal too. When Jesus heals ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19 he makes a point of recognizing the special faith of the one who returned to give thanks. Being grateful and giving thanks strengthen and build up our faith. Refusing that opportunity to someone else is kinda mean don’t you think?
3 – you forget that what you do matters. We don’t all get big award ceremonies. We don’t all get the opportunity to be called out in front of crowd and appreciated. And even those of us who do get that, we don’t get it very often. But we all get people saying “thank you” at least some of the time. And lets face it, that takes some effort. Maybe not a lot, but that person had to know what you did, then had to take time and energy to remember and to thank you for it. Saying “you’re welcome” and accepting the thanks forces us to recognize that what we did mattered even if it’s only a little bit.
(Remember “Do not despise the day of small beginning.”)
So given these three reasons, accepting thanks is for the other person’s benefit, but almost more importantly, it’ll help us avoid burnout by reminding us that it mattered. It’s a small, sometimes meaningless bit of encouragement that’s thrown our way, but it’ll still make a difference if we let it.