One of my great joys in ministry is overseeing the 12Stone Residency Program, training up the next generation of church leaders. Nathan Benefield, a resident who serves in our Student Ministry department, will be sharing his leadership wisdom on the blog today.

Our gratitude matters to God. There are over 100 verses in the Bible  that show us God is honored by our expressed gratitude, both to Him and to others. Scripture is so vocal on this topic because God  knows  that gratitude can powerfully change both your personal character and your relationships.

Gratitude Creates Dependence On God

Jesus gave thanks to God: He knew He could do nothing apart from God’s anointing. When we take time to give thanks for what God has done, we remember God offers power and provision for His glory, not ours. God can’t give when we only want to take.

Gratitude Creates Generosity 

Gratitude keeps you from taking things for granted … especially people.  At 12Stone, a common phrase to remember a giving approach to ministry is to “want more FOR people than you want FROM people.”  Leadership can be exhausting, but gratitude keeps the right mindset to continue giving.

Gratitude Fuels People and Connects Them to the Vision

When people feel valued and appreciated, you invest in their emotional fuel tanks. Too often, ministry leaders unintentionally exhaust their volunteers because they forget to make intentional investments of gratitude. When you help people feel valued and appreciated as a part of a Kingdom-building team, you have connected their actions to a greater purpose.

To keep a heart of gratitude:

  • Choose Appreciation over Entitlement: Don’t confuse holy discontentment with greed.
  • Choose “We” over “Me”: It’s not about your kingdom, it’s about God’s Kingdom.
  • Choose to serve: Nothing makes you grateful like humility.

Here are a couple ways to meaningfully express gratitude:

1-Write a Letter

It’s old school, but it matters.  Culture creates a pace that is too fast for people to REALLY say “thank you.”  This personal touch communicates that people matter and that you took time to slow down and tell them.

2-Be Specific

A generalized “thank you” is efficient but not effective.  Tell an individual that you are grateful for specific actions, and help them connect their actions to values.

3-Praise Publicly

Reward what you want to reinforce, and your act of gratitude strengthens vision.  When others can see what is rewarded, you can both appreciate and inspire people.

4-Say it Like You Mean It

Often, when a child receives a gift, the parent will prompt “Now, what do you say…?”  Of course the answer is “thank you,” but it’s not as genuine.  People  pick up on half-hearted compliments.  Say “Thank You” like you mean it.

5-Give Thanks to God

As leaders, it’s easy to focus so much on results and influence that we forget to regularly thank God, the ultimate giver of every good gift.  As we receive more, may we always remember that God gives us the power and anointing to do what we do. We get to do ministry.  We get to lead people.  We get to be children of God.