May 23, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 (NRSV)
We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the New Testament book known as 1 Thessalonians, we see an example of people who thank God for others and then tell the others about it. When we share our thanks for people with those people, it encourages them. It strengthens our relationships. And it reminds us that the people who matter so much to us are gifts from God. May we learn to thank God regularly for people and then to let them know.
Today’s devotion is part of the series Encouragement from 1 Thessalonians.
In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we were encouraged by the example of Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to thank God for the people who matter to us. The apostle and his colleagues “always” were thanking God for “all” of the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:2). Their example inspires us to do likewise as we pray.
It also encourages us to let the people for whom we are thankful now. Paul and his co-workers didn’t only thank God for the Thessalonians. They also told the Thessalonians that they were doing this. I believe we should imitate their example.
Why should we tell people that we thank God for them? I can think of several reasons. I’m sure you can add a few of your own.
First of all, when we tell people we thank God for them, they feel seen and valued. I’m sure you can relate to this. It’s great when someone says, “Thank you.” It’s great in a different way when someone says, “I thank God for you.” Letting people know you’re grateful for them is a wonderful way to affirm them and nurture your relationship with them.
Second, when we tell people we thank God for them and others, it’s likely that we are encouraging them in their own expressions of gratitude. I remember a time from my years as pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church. In a Thanksgiving Eve service, we had an “open mike” time in which people could share with the congregation those things for which they were thankful.
Larry, my associate pastor, thanked God for “Johann Sebastian Bach.” As he did, two things happened to me. First, I realized that I had never before thanked God for Bach even though I was a lover of Bach’s music. Second, I added my quiet, “Amen, Lord. Thank you for Bach.” As I did that, I felt my heart swell with feelings of gratitude for a brother in Christ – Bach was a strong Christian – whose music had made such a difference in my life.
Third, when we tell people that we thank God for them, this reframes our relationship with them in a special way. If I say “Thank you” to you, which is a fine and wonderful thing to say, it reflects the relationship between the two of us. But if I say, “I thank God for you,” this reframes our relationship as something that includes God. In fact, it implies that God is somehow responsible for and sovereign over our relationship. This can be a fine reminder of God’s grace. It can also encourage the people for whom we are thankful to consider the people in their life who are gifts from God to them.
Fourth, telling people we thank God for them models the kind of gratitude that is both commended in Scripture and supportive of healthy, strong relationships. If we and the others in our Christian community regularly share our thanks with each other, we will all grow in gratitude. This strengthens the Christian community and, of course, it glorifies God.
May God help us develop the regular practice of thanking God for the people in our lives and sharing our gratitude for them with them.
Can you remember a time when somebody told you they thanked God for you? If so, how did you respond? How did you feel?
How often do you let others know you thank God for them? If you do this often, why? If you don’t do this often, why not?
Who are some of the people in your life who matter greatly to you?
In light of your answer to the previous question, thank God for the people who mean so much to you. Then, let at least one of these people know about your gratitude.
Gracious God, again I thank you for the example of Paul and his colleagues. They model for us how to let people know that we are thankful for them. They inspire us to do the same.
I ask, Lord, that you help me to be grateful for those who make such a difference in my life. I fear I can easily take them for granted. May I see clearly who they are and what they mean to me. May I offer thanks to you for them. Then, in the right time and way, may I share my thanks with them.
Help me, dear Lord, to be a truly and consistently thankful person. Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Don’t Keep Your Gratitude to Yourself
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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.