It’s that time of the year when our thoughts turn toward giving the Lord thanks for the way He has provided. We can easily focus on being thankful during this season, but do we consider the ways we are thankful every day of the year? As a leader, how can you develop an attitude of gratitude as you fulfill God’s calling?
There’s an interesting passage in Scripture found in 1 Chronicles 23 when David organized the Levites for leadership. We find 38,000 leaders were given assignments—24,000 were given the work of building the temple, 6,000 were officers and judges, 4,000 were gatekeepers, and 4,000 were praising the Lord with the instruments. That’s a lot of leaders to oversee! And yet, tucked in verse 30, we find that all of the leaders were given this charge, “They are also to stand every morning to give thanks and praise to the Lord, and likewise in the evening.”
Thankfulness. It’s not just a cute sign or hashtag for your Instagram. It’s a daily remembrance of what God has done in your life, what He is doing, and what He will do. It’s an element of our lives that should mark our leadership in both our personal worship and our outward expression of how we live.
How can you be a leader who lives with thankfulness? Here are eight things you can begin to incorporate in your daily practice.
1. Begin your day and end your day with prayer that includes thanksgiving. Praise is reserved for stating who God is, but thanksgiving focuses on the acts of God in your life. Keep a record or journal and begin to write down specific things you are thankful for each day.
2. Show thankfulness to those you lead. Are you thankful for the people you lead? Are you telling them specific ways you are thankful for them? Spend time telling your team the ways you are thankful for them and do it so others hear. It can go a long way in your leadership.
3. Thankfulness can be shown in your generous giving. Are you a cheerful giver? Are you a generous giver? If you want to develop a heart of gratitude, show it in the way you give—not just this time of year, but all year long.
4. Pray for others who have physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. While this is our supplication or crying out to God on behalf of others, when we pray for the needs of others, we can often take the focus off of our selfish desires and realize the ways God has been good and faithful to supply our own needs.
5. Make thanksgiving a regular part of your prayer time. Just as the Levites began and ended their day with thanksgiving, always include thanksgiving as part of your prayer life.
6. Say the words “thank you” often. I end many of my emails with a simple “thank you” as a way to express my sincere gratitude. I began this habit after someone I worked for noticed that my correspondence often seemed lacking of gratitude. Not only do I try to do this often with my written words, but I also want to verbally thank those who I work with—whether I am under their leadership or they are under my leadership.
7. Be thankful in all things. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Are you thankful for just the good things in your life or can you learn to be thankful for the difficulties that will certainly come? What do you think God is teaching you through the good and bad?
8. Finally, spend time with people who display gratefulness. Let them rub off on you. And if you find yourself around people who are constantly complaining or looking for ways to tear down and not build up, be a leader who turns the conversation to thankfulness. Remind others that thankfulness is something that should always be on our lips and help them see specific ways they can be thankful.
Kelly D. King in the Manager of Magazines/Devotional Publishing and Women’s Ministry Training for LifeWay Christian Resources. You can hear Kelly speak at You Lead events that are held in various cities throughout the country each year. She is also the author of Ministry to Women: The Essential Guide to Leading Women in the Local Church. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter @kellydking.