By Chuck Lawless

This past week, we celebrated Thanksgiving in the United States. On this one day, we gathered with family, ate a meal, and took a few minutes to express our thanks. Then, we moved on with talking, eating, watching football, napping . . . and eating again.

We have so much for which to be grateful. I fear, though, that we too often limit our expressions of thanksgiving to only this day. Because the Apostle Paul tells us to “give thanks in everything” (1 Thess 5:18), we need to practice thanksgiving. Here are some practical ways to build thanksgiving into your leadership role.

  1. Handwrite thank you notes. Frankly, it was my wife who convinced me of the importance of this task. An email is acceptable, but a personally handwritten note somehow raises the significance of the “thank you.” Take the time to write something – it won’t be a waste of your time.
  2. Make a monthly thank you call. Somebody in your life deserves a “thank you” from you. Again, an email might be the more common expression of thanks today, but God gives us voices to communicate. Each month, find somebody for whom a phone call of thanksgiving will mean much. Use the phone, and have a conversation. You might even find that a phone call takes less time than writing an email.
  3. Surprise your spouse with another “Thanksgiving Day.” Everybody expects to celebrate Thanksgiving in November, but few people will be ready for an undeclared day of thanksgiving. Choose another day during the year (and NOT your anniversary or your spouse’s birthday), and show your gratitude for your spouse’s love and support.
  4. Write a thank you letter to your children. Depending on their age, they might react differently to this letter. Young ones might not fully understand its significance, though they’ll likely be glad to hear you read it to them. Teens might think it to be weird (at least publicly), but they might also cherish it privately. Give your children something to keep for the rest of their lives.
  5. Spend one day a week in thanksgiving prayer. Choose one day, and pray only thanksgiving prayers throughout the day. Begin this way, “Lord, thank you for this new day. Thank you that I have life today,” and then thank God for everything throughout the day. I promise you won’t exhaust your reasons to be grateful.
  6. Send a thank you card to people who have positively influenced your life. The possibilities are numerous: your parents, a teacher, a Scout leader, a pastor, a small group leader, a mentor, the person who did your pre-marital counseling, a boss, a neighbor, etc. Think about sending one card per month. Schedule it. Write it. Send it. Bless somebody else with a simple card.
  7. Sponsor a thank you break for your co-workers. It’s easy to do, and it’s not costly. Get the boss’ approval (of course, you might be the boss), order a few snacks, and surprise your co-workers with a 20-minute unexpected break. Taking time to express your gratitude for them will make their day.
  8. Get involved in a ministry to needy people. Christians often help the needy during the holidays, but the needs continue throughout the year. Find a ministry in which your family can participate regularly. Help your children to see that many other people do not have all the blessings many of us have. Teach them to be grateful for a roof, a meal, a shower, and clean clothes – and you lead the way in expressing gratitude.
  9. Start a thank you journal. I am not typically a journaler, but this type of journaling does not take much time. Keep a small journal handy, and simply write down the things for which you are thankful throughout the day. Pay special attention to God’s answering prayers or moving in unexpected ways. Be sure to share your thanksgivings with someone at least once a week so God alone gets the glory.
  10. Take the Lord’s Supper regularly. Your congregation may already do so. If so, be sure to attend. Use the time as genuine reflection on the death of Christ until He comes again. Allow this church ordinance to grip you with thanksgiving. Live in light of that gratitude by choosing obedience over sin, sacrifice over self-centeredness, and grace over unforgiveness.

This last option, of course, assumes you are a follower of Jesus. If you are not a Christian and would like more information, check out FindItHere.com.

What other ways to express thanksgiving would you recommend? Help us all to show gratitude throughout the year.

Lifeway_Blog_Ad[1]Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary.

You can connect with Dr. Lawless on both Twitter and Facebook.


  1. Leon says

    Thanks for the list Dr. Lawless. Number 4 really struck a chord with me. Both of my boys (now grown) will get a letter from me soon (maybe a part of Christmas).

  2. Ken Jerome says

    Thanks for the list — working on these will be good for me — the thank you to my grown children especially.
    I am teaching your “I am a church member” Book again at a new church. — I taught this book at the end of my last interim and was told we should have done this first! — Well, this time I am starting with this teaching and it seems to be helping.
    thank you for sharing this wisdom with me!
    Ken Jerome

  3. Gary Dennis says

    Thank you for posting these suggestions. I value your onsight.
    Two possible additions might include:
    1) Contact someone who made a difference in you life years ago & tell them that you still remember the difference they made. A lady called 10 years after I had the privilege of telling her about Jesus to say “Thank you.” Her call made my day.
    2) Give away something that is valuable for you to someone who needs it more than you. Pass it on. A pastor gave me some of his most valuable books when I was an 18 year old preacher. I thank God for that investment when I imitate that kind of generosity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

+ four = 11