A life of gratefulness will grip you like nothing else and, through you, your children. Living a life of gratefulness in your home probably sounds to you like a good thing, something to aim for, but there are few things I’ve found to be as universally missing in the home and as critical to raising god-honoring and well-balanced children. Children that you want to be around when they become adults.
In counseling I’m learning that the prescription for healing our spiritual problems frequently includes a healthy dose of gratefulness. It’s not just the latest in the counselor’s bag of tricks or a ploy to gloss over a problem, it’s a perspective giving exercise that turns us away from our self-absorbed tendencies, reminds us of God’s mercies toward us and how rich we are in Him, and then frees us to joyful service of others.
Teaching Your Children
Children unconsciously observe how their parents live and from this they learn a lot about themselves, their relationship to others, and ultimately to their God. Of all the lesser known sins we commit against our children, ungratefulness may be the greatest because at the heart of an ungrateful spirit is resentment toward God which dishonors Him and leads us to worship ourselves. From Romans 1:21 we learn that at the center of man’s descent into all manner of evil is ungratefulness.
Chances are you have a deep desire to see your children grow into godly adults. Why is it that we who so deeply desire this so easily fail at something as basic and essential as gratefulness? My guess is that we have forgotten the love of God spoken of in Lamentations 3:22–23 which says,
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
If I don’t deliberately set my heart toward gratefulness to God, reminding myself of His love, mercy, and faithfulness every morning I get caught up in my task list, what I have to accomplish, who’s relying on me, and what will happen if I fail. I quickly become a steam roller in my home and my wife Kara and the kids suffer.
A Simple Exercise
Here’s a simple exercise I often prescribe to others who need a dose of gratefulness to re-calibrate their hearts: Every day write down three things you’re grateful for, then think about why you’re grateful for them and write some of that down. One day you may choose things you’re grateful for, such as your good health, a warm home, your church. Another day you may think of three people you’re grateful for. On those days, write one of them a note of thankfulness, telling them why you’re grateful to God for them. We’re particularly good at being critical of those closest to us or in authority over us so start there with your husband, your wife, one of your children, then move on to your church friends, your pastor, a coworker.
As simple as it may sound, taking the time to focus on those things for which you are grateful in a particular person, your life situation, even a trial, will remind you of God’s new-every-morning mercies, and help you raise your children to do the same.
This post was first published in Every Thought Captive magazine which is published monthly with thought captivating articles helping us to rethink what the good life is and how we can live it. SUBSCRIBE TODAY!