I’d like to present to you the understatement of the decade. Are you ready?
2020 has been a DIFFICULT year.
Earth-shattering revelation, right?
For many of us, 2020 has been a year to forget.
And while it would be easy to simply hunker down in our quarantine bunkers, wave the white flag, and give up on 2020, as Christians we are called to endure regardless of the storms of life we face.
We are not called to be desolate and downtrodden, but we are called to remain thankful in ALL circumstances.
Paul puts it very plainly in 1 Thessalonians:
16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLT
You may be thinking:
“Paul, be thankful in ALL things? But Paul, you never had to deal with a worldwide Pandemic! You didn’t have to be quarantined with MY family for months! Paul, you never had to wear an itchy face mask when you shopped in Walmart! Paul, you weren’t bombarded with ads for a politician every 8 seconds on EVERY form of media we own! And you want me to be thankful in ALL circumstances?!”
If we take a deep breath and calm ourselves, we would remember the many afflictions Paul mentions he endured in 2 Corinthians 11.
And once we ponder those afflictions we’d probably have to remain quiet (unless of course you have been shipwrecked FOUR times in 2020, then you may have an argument).
And if Paul could preach thankfulness in all circumstances, despite the litany of hardships he survived, I think it’s important we as Christians fully embody a mindset of thankfulness as well.
So the question becomes, if Christ intends for us to be thankful in ALL circumstances, then how can we develop a mindset of thankfulness?
And extending this a step further, how do we lead our congregation into that same mindset?
Maintaining a Mindset of Thankfulness
Learning to maintain a mindset of thankfulness is no small task, but it certainly can be developed.
One of the best ways I’ve been able to incorporate thankfulness into my day-to-day life is by starting each day with thankfulness.
I do this every morning by writing down in my journal three things I’m grateful for that day.
They may range from something very specific; the aroma of my dark roast coffee that morning, or how comfy my toes are in my warm slippers, to something more broad; I’m thankful I get to serve in ministry, or how thankful I am for my family.
Whatever pops into my head that morning, I make an intentional effort to write it down and thank God for them.
At first, I found it was difficult to “make time” for this, because I had other things I “needed” to get done before I started my day.
But after a few weeks of purposefully writing SOMETHING down in my journal, I found two things occurred: It became easier to think of something original to be thankful for, and throughout the day I became more aware of the ways God continues to bless and work in my life, in spite of the fact that it’s been a difficult year.
Maybe journaling won’t work for you, but be very intentional and find a way each day to be thankful for all God has blessed you with.
Even on the hard days, when it seems like nothing is going your way.
Remember what the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 118:1:
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
Psalm 118: 1 NLT
God is blessing and revealing himself to us every single day, but the burden is on us to make the effort to acknowledge those blessings and to give thanks for how he’s working in our life.
Maintaining Thankfulness in Our Congregation
As Christian leaders, we are asked to lead our congregations in many different directions. We lead in prayer, counsel, preaching, etc.
But it’s imperative we also lead our congregations in thankfulness.
I want to share a few ways you can be intentional about maintaining a mindset of thankfulness and encouragement in your congregation.
Put on the calendar a “Month of Thankfulness” or quarterly “Thankfulness” sermons:
The beauty of the Bible is that God desires for us to be thankful, and he put it in many different scriptures to remind us.
Set aside a month where you focus solely on this topic. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Developing a Grateful Heart
- Thank the Lord for His Character
- How to Abstain From Unthankfulness
- How Thanksgiving and Generosity Go Hand-in-hand
Sharing what YOU as the leader are thankful for:
This could be through a weekly newsletter, email, or even a video shared with your congregation.
It would be a great reminder for the church to see you leading with a mindset of thankfulness.
Sharing testimonies of what members of your congregation are thankful for:
Testimonies aren’t reserved for our one Thanksgiving service a year.
We believe God blesses throughout the year, so give your congregation an opportunity to hear what God has done for fellow believers.
You can do this by sending out an email testimony on behalf of one of your members, or allow them three minutes in a service to share what God has done for them.
There’s no shortage of ways you can encourage your congregation to remain thankful, even in the midst of a difficult year.
If you use a church management system like Breeze, there are several tools that can help you accomplish leading your church in a mindset of thankfulness.
Using Breeze’s built in calendar tool, you can create a private calendar to help you organize your preaching topics and schedule.
From within Breeze, you can also easily send out–or schedule–weekly emails of thankfulness to your congregation.
No matter what tool you use for your church, don’t forget the goal: “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
Keep up the great work! Your church needs YOU now more than ever!
Titus Johnson is an Advisor with Breeze Church Management. In addition to Breeze, he is the lead pastor of First Apostolic Church of Sandwich. He loves getting to do life with his better half, Lauren, and their precious daughter, Parris. And in case you're wondering, yes, Sandwich is a real town.