During the holidays, there is an emphasis on gratitude and “giving thanks” but it can often be overshadowed by the messaging of Black Friday and the busyness of Christmas traditions and events.
As a church leader or pastor, you might take a moment to incorporate gratitude into your personal life or even study for a sermon on the topic. But if we’re honest, we can easily get so caught up in preparing for the Christmas season that we forget to truly pause and be grateful ourselves.
We may even be overwhelmed with the numerous problems we are asked to help solve, the daily running of the church, or even addressing the life challenges of our congregation during this time of the year. It can be a lot to handle, and all that gratitude can get moved to the backburner.
We are told throughout Scripture the importance of giving thanks and offering praise to God for all that He has done in our lives. Here are a few examples:
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. – Psalm 103:1-5 (ESV)
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever! – 1 Chronicles 16:34 (ESV)
Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. – Psalm 95:1-3 (ESV)
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV)
Offering thanks and cultivating gratitude is an opportunity to orient our hearts to what God is doing and what He has been up to. It’s a reminder of what we should focus our minds on. By first ensuring our hearts and minds are full of gratitude and praise for the story God is writing in our life and our churches, we can trust that God will provide the outcome and bring about fruit from our faithful labor.
In the midst of the holiday season, consider taking a moment to pause and focus on gratitude for these things:
1. What God is Doing
Take a look around your church. How are people growing and changing? Whose life stands out that God is actively working on sanctifying or at work in? Regardless of the size of your church, there are likely several people who stand out. God is actively at work in your church, its members, and even in your own life. Consider starting a list and adding to it each day. You may be surprised by how long it is and what God is up to!
2. What God Has Done
In Scripture, the Israelites would set up altars or stones of remembrance. These would serve as a physical reminder of when God came through for them, fulfilled His promises, or did miraculous things. We are a fairly forgetful people and can easily forget what God has done in our lives and around us.
Where have you seen God do incredible things? Could you set up something physical to help you remember all that He has done?
3. The Gifts God Has Given You as a Leader
Many of us as church leaders can easily name all the things we are lacking or the talents we wish we had. But how often do we consider the gifts God has given to us? Rather than falling into the trap of comparison, focus on all the ways that God has uniquely equipped you for your current position.
4. Your Congregation
Not only are your congregation the people whom you have been called to minister to and shepherd, but they are the people who will do much life alongside you and your family. Give thanks for their role in your own story!
5. Your Community
Where is your church located? What is the community around it like? What is the incredible mission God has put you on at this moment in time in your unique community. Give thanks to God for the opportunities and consider the ways you can communicate your appreciation for being a part of your greater community.
6. Your Family
Family is something that is too easy to take for granted or it can feel like it’s a challenge to get enough time with them. Your family is one of the greatest gifts God has given you, and is something to thank God often for!
7. Your Staff
Your staff often share the responsibilities that allow the church to function efficiently. They too answered the call to serve the Lord and live out the mission of your church. They partner with you day after day to serve your congregation well. From the big things to the small things, our staff is worth our gratitude and appreciation!
8. Your Volunteers
A church can’t run without faithful people serving by giving their time, talents, and resources. They make it possible to offer nursery services, VBS, Awana, worship, and other programs at your church. How can you express gratitude to your volunteers in a heartfelt way this holiday season?
9. Your Friends
Who is your support system? Who comes to you to give rather than receive from you? These are the people who seek ways to feed into your soul, allow you to be vulnerable, and truly cherish your friendship. Give thanks for the breath of fresh air they are in your life.
As pastors, church leaders, and followers of Christ, we are called to have a heart of gratitude and offer praise to God.
Consider ways you can continue to cultivate gratitude in your daily walk either by starting your daily devotion time with thanksgiving, keeping a gratitude journal, or even setting up a physical reminder of all the things you have to be thankful for.
Our team here at One Church Software is cheering you on!
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