November 23, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Colossians 1:3-5
In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.
On Thanksgiving Day, we are encouraged to thank God for God’s many blessings. That’s wonderful! But this is also a great day to share your gratitude with others. Be sure to say “Thank you” today to the people who make a difference in your life.
Today’s devotion is part of the series: Thanksgiving Preseason.
In the past couple of weeks, we’ve been in Thanksgiving Preseason, a time to reflect upon the role of gratitude in our lives so that we might be ready to overflow with thanks on this special day. If the last two weeks were Thanksgiving Preseason, this is Thanksgiving Super Bowl in the United States.
Or at least it’s supposed to be. But, as I have observed before, for many of us Thanksgiving Day is so filled with activity that it’s hard to stop for a few moments of intentional gratitude.
Nevertheless, I would encourage you to do this very thing. At some point during what might be a busy holiday, set aside at least ten minutes to intentionally thank God for God’s manifold grace in your life. If you haven’t found time during the daylight for such a thing, perhaps you could end your day by thanking God right before falling asleep.
I want also to encourage two more practices that can enrich your Thanksgiving celebration. The first is inspired by the example of the Apostle Paul. In the beginning of his letter to the Colossians, Paul tells them that he thanks God for them and why. Paul does this in most of his letters, following the letter-writing tradition of his day. But he doesn’t repeat some hackneyed, empty prayer. Rather, he tells the recipients of his letter precisely why he is thankful for them: “For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven” (Colossians 1:4-5).
Perhaps you could do something like this today. As you thank the Lord for the people in your life, consider telling at least one of them that you have done so. Maybe you could do this during your Thanksgiving gathering, or through a phone or Zoom call. You might drop someone a note, an email, or even send a quick text. Something that seems so easy can make a big difference to the recipient . . . as well as to the sender.
In addition to telling people you are thankful to God for them, you might also make sure in this season to thank people directly. Of course it’s always a good idea to thank the people who make and serve your Thanksgiving dinner. But look for other opportunities as well. If you see someone at dinner who has made a difference in your life, tell them so and say, “Thank you.” I am regularly amazed at how expressing gratitude can make such a difference in relationships, as well as in my heart.
When you’re out and about at this time of year, whether picking up some last-minute items in the grocery store or flying across the country, be especially aware of those who are working rather than enjoying a holiday weekend. A simple “Thank you for working today” can gladden the hearts of people who are usually taken for granted. Of course, there’s no reason to stop thanking people when the official Thanksgiving holiday is over. Making an effort to say “Thank you” to folks “out there” could be a wonderful Advent practice.
Speaking of Advent, I’ll have some things to say about it tomorrow. But for now, I want to let you know how grateful I am to God for you. I’ve been writing Life for Leaders devotions for 7 ½ years now. Your notes of gratitude and encouragement are a big part of what keeps me going. I’m also thankful to those of you who support this work financially through your gifts to the De Pree Center. You are quite literally keeping this work going. Plus, I’m grateful for the opportunity to study God’s Word and share with you what I discover there. So, my Life for Leaders friends, thank you for being a Life for Leaders reader and for all the ways you support me and other others on the De Pree Center team. We are truly grateful for you!
Once again . . . Happy Thanksgiving!
For whom are you grateful today? Might you have a chance to tell them today?
What helps you to express your gratitude to others? What holds you back?
Can you think of someone in your life – a grocery clerk, the receptionist in your doctor’s office, the person who delivers your mail – who might really like to hear “Thank you” from you?
Be intentional today about sharing your gratitude for others with them.
Gracious God, you are worthy of gratitude every single day. But on this Thanksgiving Day I am especially glad to thank you for your gifts to me. Thank you most of all for your amazing grace, for your love given in Jesus Christ.
Among your gifts to me are many people. So today I thank you for . . . . [Be specific as you thank God for the people in your life and the difference they make to you.]
I ask, Lord, for opportunities this day to share my gratitude with others. May I tell them how thankful I am for them. May I be sure to thank the people who serve me today and throughout this holiday season.
All praise, glory, honor, and thanks be to you, gracious God. Amen.
Banner image by Nicholas Bartos on Unsplash.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Thanksgiving: Not Just a Day, But a Way of Life.
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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.