The Power of Thankfulness

I was having lunch with a friend of Arrow a few months ago. In my new role as President of Arrow in Canada, I have been inviting input to guide my leadership so I asked for his advice as I start this new role. His response surprised me – “Be thankful.”

As I pondered this advice, my friend shared that we often get too focused on all the challenges before us or we get too caught up in the busyness of life and leadership or we are simply consumed by the future and all its possibilities. In any case, my friend shared that we forget to be thankful for all the blessings and work God is doing right around us.

A Weed Called Entitlement

When we believe we ‘deserve’ or are ‘due’, our expectations undermine and even eliminate thankfulness.

This simple advice has both convicted and challenged me. I have also added another root cause behind not being thankful. It’s a nasty weed called entitlement. When we believe we ‘deserve’ or are ‘due’, our expectations undermine and even eliminate thankfulness. We simply expect and as a consequence we miss the gift and only expect more. We also miss the opportunity to express thankfulness to God and to others.

Slow Down and Reflect

All this thinking about thankfulness reminded me of a co-worker’s habit of posting three things she was thankful for on her blog at the end of each day. Her example has inspired me to try to do the same using my journal. I miss some days but when I follow this discipline it changes me. It forces me to slow down and reflect. The more difficult days in life can take more reflection time, but I’m always amazed at what blessings come up and that my list often goes well beyond three items. Often little things that I’ve overlooked, taken for granted or felt entitled to receive are reclaimed as gifts of God’s grace and returned to Him with thanksgiving.

Reflecting on blessings and gifts also seems to grow a thankful heart. Whatever our circumstances, there’s often more to be thankful for than first meets the eye. The sour feeling of entitlement also begins to turn to gratitude when the discipline of thankfulness is practiced.

Say it

Being thankful is also encouraging me be more intentional about what’s becoming a lost art — expressing thanks to others. Whether it’s the clerk at the check-out or a co-worker who has gone the extra mile, I’m trying to be more attentive and expressive with thanks. Seeing the positive impact on others becomes another blessing.

As I write, one thank you that comes to mind is to Dr. Carson Pue. Carson has faithfully, prayerfully, skillfully and creatively written To The Point for many years. He has also been an encouraging mentor in my life for over a decade. With his transition back to the local church, you will still get to enjoy his writing from time to time along with others from the Arrow team as well as graduates and faculty. But, for now, I want to say thank you Carson. Thank you for using your gifts to bless so many people through To The Point over the years!

How is your level of thankfulness these days? What could happen if you tried the “three things I’m thankful for today” challenge? Who could you bless today with your thanks?

To The Point,
Steve Brown

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” — 1Thessalonians 5:16-18