What is a Gracious Person Like?

Gracious. coffee_cup (1).jpg

Now I like this word.

Like you, however, I have been around some people for whom the word “gracious” doesn’t seem to fit.

It was a busy evening. This particular church was attempting to feed a lot of people. Volunteers had been working in the kitchen in their church building throughout the day to prepare for a big crowd that evening. Other volunteers had come the day before after purchasing food at the local Sam’s. Here were lots of people working together. Again, all were volunteers.

One couple came through the line. He complained because his portion was smaller than what he wanted. The person serving apologized and explained that they were trying to give small portions of this particular dish because they wanted to make sure that everyone got some before they ran out. The man was visibly displeased and muttered something about the volunteers needing to do a better job of planning. No thank you. No gratitude.

That is not graciousness.

On the other hand, I have known gracious people. For example, I witnessed one gracious man interact with people many times in social settings. He would never humiliate, embarrass, or in any way communicate displeasure over something like the above example. He spent his time thanking people and expressing gratitude to them for the work they had done. At such dinners, he often wandered through the kitchen complimenting people and thanking each person for their service.

Graciousness is reserved for people who recognize 
that they are privileged to receive what they have been given. Or as Fred Craddock once said, “The final act of grace is graciousness.”  

So what is a gracious 

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. (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-upmanship. (“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. (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. 

A gracious person looks for the good. 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!”

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


What else would you add to this list? What have you observed about gracious people?


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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15 thoughts on “What is a Gracious Person Like?

  1. Jim, I’m glad you talk about graciousness often. I need it. I think one I would add is a gracious person doesn’t point out every little thing that he thinks is wrong with his wife or children or coworkers. He doesn’t try to correct every little mistake that is made by others. When correction is necessary, and he’s the one who has to do it, he does it appropriately, respectfully and gently, only for the other person’s good – not for his own ego.

    • Darryl, love what you are saying regarding what is said about wife/children/coworkers. Like this a lot.

      I probably stress graciousness a lot because I need to hear this and I’ve met others who do as well. I am afraid that far too often we block others’ vision of God through our ungracious spirit.

  2. Jim: Haven’t left a comment in a long time, but I have been reading your blogs regularly. Gracious people are wonderful to be around and add a blessing to any church family, though they are not always among the church goers. I had a very frustrating morning trying to get a doctor to give us causes of death and then sign off on the certified death certificate. Two hours later, having been handed off to so many people who could not help me at all, I kept ending up back with the same person who started the rabbit chase. At one point, wanting nothing more than to give her a good cussin’, I had to make myself stop and intentionally extend grace and gratitude for what she was trying to do. Eventually, though, I turned it over to my wife (who finally accomplished the task), who is far more gracious than I under those circumstances.

    Good reminder, Jim, of something that should come natural to a believer.

    • Greg, I really like one particular thing that you said in this comment. You said that you had to make yourself stop “and intentionally extend grace…” How important! Far too many of us are all for extending grace-unless we don’t feel like it. Being a gracious person is something that one does out of a commitment. Or as you said, sometimes one has to be intentional in order to behave in a gracious manner. That kind of intentional move is rooted in a commitment to God, not a feeling at the moment.

      Thank you so much, Greg.

  3. What about…

    “A gracious person one-ups their own actions with stories of other people.” I’m not sure exactly how to phrase that, but it came to mind when I read the one above about the one-up game.

  4. Love this post! Being gracious also means – not projecting unto others certain wrong motives that originate in our own heart – giving people the benefit of the doubt. Also, one of the fun things I like to do when someone brings me a morsel of something negative about someone, is to counter it with something positive. “I heard that Mary is so slow (rolling eyes!)” “Oh, I know she may be slower, but have you ever seen the meticulous work she did on that project? I was impressed! It probably pays to work slower and with more care because she got such a great result.”

    • Karin-I really like your discipline regarding what you say to others when they come to you when something negative. Very good. Also like what you said about motives that originate in our hearts.

  5. I was reading an article the other day in a Social Work journal. They were talking about how people are associated with the things they say to others, and studies have shown that when we address others, unconciously they other person hears our words, and if of a negative nature, we are then classified in their mind as a somewhat negative person. The opposite , being viewed a positive person. That should be a real incentive to us to chose our words carefully. Practice nmakes perfect! It also affects our own perception. Saying things that are positive verses saying negative things does inmprove our ow moods. It is actualy factual support for the idea that if you do or say something enough times you will believe it. There is power in the spoken word. There is power in kindness.

    • Phyllis, the article that you reference sounds very, very interesting. As you said, that might be one incentive to choose our words carefully. I appreciate your comment very much.