As a pastor, I am always in a process of learning and growing in Christ. I believe it is hard for leaders to take people to places they have never been before. For this reason, I take my walk with God as the most important part of my life – for without it, I cannot help my brothers and sisters in Christ in their walk with God very effectively.
Lately, God has been teaching me more about gratitude. While I was digging a large hole in my front yard to locate and repair the main water line to my house, I listened to a few podcasts – one was from The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco on the topic of gratitude in workplaces and relationships. Here is the description of the presentation:
New research shows that expressing gratitude can powerfully affect our sense of fulfillment and happiness as well as greatly improve the productivity of organizations. Join us as Janice Kaplan, award-winning investigative reporter and best-selling author, shares her insightful stories and the results of her research into how gratitude can transform every aspect of life, including marriage and friendship, money and ambition, and health and fitness. Her straightforward, science-based recommendations about how to incorporate simple and effective gratitude-based practices into your relationships and your work could transform your life!
Ms. Kaplan did a good job talking about how gratitude positively influences almost every aspect of life. Statistics show that though most people KNOW that it’s important to be grateful and to express gratitude, few people say they EXPRESS gratitude regularly in their day to day lives. People were much more likely to thank the UPS delivery driver or coffee shop barista than they were to thank their family members for routine actions. Employers were likewise not very likely to thank their employees since it seemed to them to be a sign of weakness. They often said “we say thank you with a paycheck” – but a paycheck is not a ‘thank you’ – it’s simply a paycheck. Employees generally felt more supportive and enthusiastic about their supervisors when gratitude was expressed in notes, cards, emails, and words.
The author/speaker shared these insights as if it was some kind of new discovery – and I was thinking to myself that 3000 years ago, God’s people already knew the importance of gratitude. There is so much wisdom in the Bible and it’s sad that so many ‘secular’ people today seem unaware of the healthy psychology contained in the Word of God. It was good to hear a “science based” explanation of the importance of gratitude – but how sad that people miss out on the wisdom that is already given to us from God. We see this important theme frequently in the Psalms and in other books of the Bible. One of my favorites is Psalm 100:
3Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
5 For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
Here we see the revelation of God’s character and our relationship with God directly linked poetically to our expressions of gratitude, thanksgiving, and praise. Just as gratitude helps improve our relationships with friends, family, and co-workers, it also improves our relationship with God. This creates joy in our lives and intimacy with God our Creator. Here is a good quote from Benedictine monk and author David Steindl-Rast:
“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.”
This is good advice for us to follow. I want to challenge you, if you are not doing it already — to find a way to incorporate gratitude into your daily life by linking it together with some other daily routine – when you drive to work, when you walk the dog, when you make the coffee, when you brush your teeth – take some time to thank God – for blessings, and even for particular hardships – and see what impact it has on your life and your relationships with others – and your relationship with God.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”