Jump directly to the content
The Christian Call to Say 'You're Welcome'lolololori / Flickr

The Christian Call to Say 'You're Welcome'


Jun 6 2014
How we respond to thanks matters.

A friend recently told me about one of her resolutions. Not for the new year—we were well into March—but a certain habit had gotten under her skin. "I've decided that when someone says,'Thank you,' I'm going to say, 'You're welcome.' It's a moral issue."

A moral issue? Really?

Yet, the more I think about what she said, the more I think she's onto something. Driving in my car, I hear NPR hosts thank each guest, and most respond with some version of "my pleasure," or the subvert the thanks with "no, thank you." We rarely hear the straightforward "you're welcome," and when we do, it usually comes from men.

It may seem like splitting hairs to make these distinctions between mannerisms that often come instinctually. There are issues of far greater importance in terms of how we live and what we say. But this remains an important point: Saying "you're welcome" is both an act of responsibility and hospitality that we who love God ought to embrace. It can be seen, in some circumstances, as the forgiveness of a debt.

Our landlord always sets aside our newspaper when my husband and I are out of town. It's a small but kind gesture, and in our quid pro quo economy, he could ask something of us in return. But he does this small kindness with no aim for recourse. "Thank you so much," I said on returning from a recent trip to Lake Tahoe. "You're welcome," he replied. He could have said, "No problem," or, "It was nothing," or, "Of course," and I would have understood what he meant. But it wasn't nothing; he created value for me. And I am grateful.

This is what I mean when I say that saying "you're welcome" is an act of responsibility. When we add something of value to someone else's life—when we bless them (which, by the way, never needs to be hashtagged, but that's another post)—we bear some responsibility for our own actions. We have created good, and good is not created apart from the work of God. To say, "No problem," or, "It's nothing," is, in some way, to shirk our responsibility.

Interestingly, several versions of "you're welcome" in other languages—like de nada in Spanish and de rien in French—literally mean "it is nothing," or "of nothing." In my opinion, this is where language falters. (Even Emily Post agrees.) What we do for each other isn't nothing, it's the foundation of community.

Support our work. Subscribe to CT and get one year free.

Comments

To add a comment you need to be a registered user or Christianity Today subscriber.

orSubscribeor
More from Her.menutics
Don’t Call Me Out at Your Wedding for Being Single

Don’t Call Me Out at Your Wedding for Being Single

The church can model a more inclusive community, one that doesn’t divide over marital status.
Why Google and BuzzFeed Need the Church

Why Google and BuzzFeed Need the Church

When big corporations make big moral decisions, where is the church’s voice?
Timehop Helps Me See God’s Providence

Timehop Helps Me See God’s Providence

How a social media app reminds me of God’s faithfulness in my life.
How Grandparenting Redeemed Our Family

How Grandparenting Redeemed Our Family

This Father’s Day, I celebrate my parents’ choice to move close to my kids.
Include results from Christianity Today
Browse Archives:

So Hot Right Now

I’m a Woman Who Got Kicked Out of Women’s Bathrooms

Our zealous policing of gender norms can have unintended and hurtful consequences.

Twitter

  • The church2019s moral position gets a lot more competition https://t.co/eTFFuEHjlc
  • RT @DailyKeller: 201cGod doesn't just love you unconditionally. He loves you counter-conditionally-in spite of your conditions.201d
  • RT @michellevanloon: What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. - @AWTozer_
  • @JBsTwoCents d83dde17 Keep up the great work!
  • Timehop can offer us more than nostalgia https://t.co/3f6VdMUTeM


What We're Reading

CT eBooks and Bible Studies

Christianity Today
The Christian Call to Say 'You're Welcome'