Creating a Culture of Gratitude


In the black of before-six one morning, I woke riveted by a thought.

I grew up in a culture of gratitude. At home, at church, at school, I always heard, “Thank you.” Thank you for what You’ve given us. Thank you for the abundance of clothes and food we have which so many people don’t. Thank you for parents who loved us and taught us about You. Thank you for the privilege of a Christian school and Christian teachers. Thank you that we can worship in freedom, when so many people are persecuted for their faith.

I remember one year near Thanksgiving time, my teachers had us children take turns telling what we were thankful for until the entire chalkboard—a chalkboard so big it took half a wall—was crammed full with words.

As a result of such teaching, I grew up feeling incredibly blessed. I thought I was one of the richest people alive, both physically and spiritually. That fairy dust lingers over me still. I find the courage to meet life and feel constantly beholden to others and obligated to give because I am one of the privileged ones.

I have. Therefore, I can conquer. Therefore, I can contribute.

It took impact with hard adult life—took my own jealousy and ambitions—to teach me that gratitude is an attitude, not a given. For my parents, my teachers, for all people, yes, we are blessed. But we are blessed if and when we notice it, not because we have more than anyone else who also notices.

The apostle Paul wrote that entire cultures lost the knowledge of God for the simple reason that they were not thankful. The essence of a belief in God is a belief that you have been given incredible gifts by a power larger than yourself—gifts like love, faith, courage, prayer, and enjoyment in living—and you want to say thank you.

Each of us, no matter our role in life, doubtless influences a child in some way. Whether as a teacher or parent or some other role, let’s give our charges this gift my mentors gave me: a way of looking at life that understands a small corner of its magnitude and says, “Thank you.”

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