November 28, 2019 • Life for Leaders
Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:19-20 (NIV)
Thanksgiving dinner is one of my favorite meals. I suppose it has something to do with nostalgia, happy memories, and a chance to enjoy a meal with loved ones. But I also delight in the basic food of the Thanksgiving table: turkey (both light and dark meat), gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. (Feel free to add your own favorites here.) I wouldn’t want to eat all of this every day. But once a year I luxuriate in the familiar, comforting, delectable dishes of Thanksgiving.
I’ve discovered a way to double my delight in Thanksgiving dinner. No, I’m not referring to eating a turkey sandwich in the evening, after all the festivities are over. And no, I’m not thinking of the leftovers that continue to gratify for days after the official holiday concludes. Rather, I’m thinking about how gratitude can enrich our experience of good things, like those things that fill our Thanksgiving tables.
For example, I love pumpkin pie. I only eat it about twice a year, on Thanksgiving Day and somewhere around Christmas. In my zeal for pumpkin pie, I could easily wolf down a piece quickly and then go about my business. But sometimes I linger, watching my fork cut through the moist pie, feeling the flakiness of the crust on my tongue, savoring the richness of the whipped cream topping. I reflect on the fact that a bunch of people, from the pumpkin farmer to the baker, worked hard to make this pie so that I might enjoy it. When I slow down and pay attention, my delight increases dramatically.
Gratitude is like this. It’s a kind of slowing down. It’s attending to things rather than simply consuming them. It’s acknowledging our debts, counting our blessings. Gratitude heightens our awareness of good things. It enables us, in a way, to enjoy them all over again.
Now, I don’t mean to say that the main reason for giving thanks to God is so that you and I might enjoy life more. Gratitude is due to the Lord for his sake and for his glory. God deserves our thanks whether we get anything out of thanking him or not. But I do believe that when we pause long enough to thank God for his gifts, these gifts often become sweeter and their sweetness lingers longer.
Of course, the gratitude that enables you to enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner all over again isn’t something reserved for the fourth Thursday in November in the United States. No matter where you live, no matter which country you call home, no matter what day it is, intentional thanks will allow you to savor your life—enjoying it twice, and many times more.
Something to Think About:
If you celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, what about it do you most enjoy?
What are the traditional foods on your Thanksgiving table?
Do you experience gratitude as enriching your life?
Something to Do:
If you are celebrating Thanksgiving today with a special meal, see if you can slow down and savor what you are experiencing: the food, the conversation, the chance to relax with friends and family. Double your joy by thanking God for the gifts that are part of this meal.
Today, I’d like to suggest something else you might do to express your gratitude to God. You can make what the Bible calls a “thank offering” by giving to an organization that is fighting hunger. If you’re already supporting such an organization, let me encourage you to make an extra gift today. If you’re looking for a good organization to support, let me suggest World Vision. You can check out their gift catalog here.
Gracious God, today I want to thank you for the joy and benefits of giving thanks. Yes, we thank you because you deserve it. Politeness alone urges us to say thanks to you. When we do, we realize that all good gifts come from you, that we owe you everything. When we thank you, we’re reminded of your goodness.
And, when we thank you, we enjoy your gifts even more. We pick them up and examine them. We savor them, letting their goodness melt on our tongues. Thanking you isn’t something we do only because it’s right. It is also something that enriches our lives. Moreover, it opens our hearts to you. Gratitude expressed reminds us of how much you love us.
Such is your grace, Lord. In thanking you, we are blessed even more. Thank you! Amen.
Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
The First Thanksgiving?
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.