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What’s Fueling Your Thanks?

Leadership //

“Thanks.”

We say it all the time.

Someone holds the door open for you at the grocery store…you say, “Thanks.”

A waiter refills your water glass…you say, “Thanks.”

An email comes your way that requires a quick reply…you say, “Thanks.”

Volunteers show up to serve in your church or children’s ministry…and, of course, you say…?

“Thanks.”

This basic word is part of our daily vocabulary. If it’s not, it should be.

At minimum, thanking people is courteous. In its most meaningful form, it expresses deep appreciation toward another person. Thanksgiving is central to what it means to love God and the people he places in our path of life.

Psalm 107:1 – Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

1 Corinthians 1:4 – I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:17 – And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Truthfully, our “thanks” can be driven by habit or something much deeper.

It’s nearly impossible to grow in gratitude when we’re always on the go as lifelong disciples and children’s ministry leaders.

As followers of Jesus, member of the body of Christ, and servants in the local church, we have a responsibility to know what fuels our “thanks” and express it to one another in all sincerity. We can get fresh perspective on the motives in our hearts by reflecting on our current actions and then redirecting how we interact in community with God and others.

So, what’s fueling your thanks these days?

Is it heartfelt gratitude or something else? As we kick off November, prepare to head into the Thanksgiving season with a revitalized sense of gratitude. Use the questions below to assess how you’re doing inside and out. Course correct as needed so that you can speak sincere “thanks” in the most meaningful ways to the people who matter most to you in the days and weeks ahead.

  • Do I have time to be thankful? How full is my calendar? Am I able to be genuinely present when I’m with my family, friends, and ministry volunteers?
  • Do I notice the contributions of others? How much of my attention is focused on me? Am I regularly celebrating God and other people for who they are and what they’ve done?
  • Do I set aside resources to give away? How tightly do I hold onto my stuff? Am I consistently generous with what I have in order to acknowledge the investments others make?
  • Do I use words and actions thoughtfully? How mindful are my prayers and praises? Am I intentional with what I say and do so people feel significantly appreciated?

Take the “Thanks-Challenge” This Month:

Finding out what’s fueling your “thanks” and taking steps to grow your gratitude requires initiative on your part. After reflecting on the questions in the section above, read Romans 16. Pay close attention to verses 3-15. Did you notice how the Apostle Paul specifically mentions 31 individuals and groups at the end of his letter? He greets them by name because he is deeply grateful for each one.

This month, commit to thanking God for at least one person per day…and thank them directly too!

Find personal and meaningful ways to thank your family, friends, colleagues, and ministry volunteers. Surprise them with a note, gift, snack, high five, phone call, day off…or whatever says “thanks” to them best.

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About the Author

Dan Lovaglia | Awana® Director of New Ministries & Parent Engagement As Director of New Ministries and Parent Engagement at Awana, Dan Lovaglia and the team he leads are finding fresh ways to equip kids, families and ministry leaders to know, love and serve Christ. He brings 15 years of discipleship ministry experience to the table and a passion for life-changing teaching, training and team-building. Dan and his wife Kate live in the northwest suburbs of Chicago with their two fantastic middle-school-age sons and dog Wrigley. Follow Dan’s adventures on Twitter and Instagram @DanLovaglia.