Are You Practicing Thanksgiving Authentically?

We’re just days away. Thanksgiving comes before Christmas although you wouldn’t know from the Jingly commercials on TV! Thanksgiving has sadly become little more than the official start of the holiday season. And that’s a shame.

We have so much to be thankful for. Our salvation, grace, mercy, family, friends, and the list goes on and on. When it comes to authentic thankfulness, is your church practicing it correctly?

My love language is words of affirmation. And like all languages from Gary Chapman’s book, “5 Love Languages”, people can use them improperly. When people affirm, thank, or try to encourage with words, they assume that almost anything can “work”. However, like all communication, the slightest issue can make your goodwill disingenuous.

People have been burned by authenticity issues, sarcasm, and the feeling of “being used” that it’s critical to communicate thankfulness properly so people truly feel your gratitude. And I know that’s what you ultimately want since so many people help ministries function properly as the hands and feet of Christ.

Here are 2 things to consider in your church communication of Thanksgiving:

  1. Don’t have other motives. There’s often times when someone pours praise out, waits a few seconds, then asks for something. Let this thanksgiving be a time to truly voice thankfulness to your congregation and fellow ministers with absolutely no other motive; just be thankful for them. Maybe even offer them something to reinforce your thankfulness.
Example: “Sarah, I’m truly thankful for how you’ve been able to minister to the kids in your Sunday School Class. Please let me know if I can ever do anything for you or if you ever need a break from teaching!”
  2. Speak thankfulness into who someone is and not just what they did. A list of to-do items completed may receive praise; but true thankfulness shows gratitude for who someone has become. It takes more work to discover how to voice this; but therefore, it’s received with greater value. It also reinforces the message of inward change that motivates our outward service.
    Example: “Ben, you’re so dependable every week with your service. I’m so thankful that I can rely on you. You’re truly a God-send. Thank you!”

The few words said following these things will linger in someone’s heart much longer than a quick thank you. This week think of several people who truly deserve some encouragement; and you become the messenger. You’ll be glad you did. Want even more impact? Write a shorthand-written note and drop it in the mail to them. It’s truly worth the price of the stamp! Happy Thanksgiving.

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