A huge lesson I have been learning lately is the importance of cultivating and practicing gratitude on a daily basis. More than just making a mental note of thanks, the Lord has been consistently calling me to actively pursue and specifically thank people who have made an impact on my life and faith.
Although there are many ways to communicate gratitude, here are three of my current favorite ways to express appreciation. Join me in celebrating the people God is using to show us His love and to influence our hearts towards what is good and true. I am willing to bet that someone’s face has already popped into your mind as you have been reading this… make time to reach out to them today! Thoughtful words of thankfulness are powerful, and you have no idea how much your words can impact and encourage the other person.
You Are Loved,
Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God.
Think of all the good that has come from their lives,
and follow the example of their faith.
– Hebrews 13:7
PRAY | Set aside time to pray specifically for the friends and leaders who have influenced your faith and spoken the word of God to you. As you thank the Lord for what He is doing in your life through these people, ask Him how you can best express your appreciation to them. Pray that the Lord will continue to use them to love and teach others, and that the words you use to communicate your gratitude will remind them how much they are loved.
The Bible is full of extraordinary examples of prayer. I have been inspired and moved by the prayers of Paul in his letters to various churches, and have included a few below for you to reference. If you can’t seem to find the words, start by reading these.
- 1 Corinthians 1:4-9
- Ephesians 1:15-23
- Philippians 1:3-6
- Colossians 1:3-14
- 2 Thessalonians 1:3
We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3
CALL | Whoever is on your mind right now… pick up the phone and give them a call! Tell them that they have been in your thoughts, and let them know the ways that God has used them to bless you. Thank them for loving you and leading by example, or for being there for you when you felt alone. Whatever it is, speak specifically about how their faith in Jesus impacted your life.
Even though I have spoken about it to others, I only recently picked up the phone and expressed my gratitude to my uncle – the first example I ever had of what a man of God looks like. Through tears and sniffles, I told him how much his life of faith continues to inspire me, and about the impact his generosity, acceptance, and unconditional love had on me and my own walk with Christ. Life is short, friends! Don’t wait to tell someone how much they mean to you.
For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? – 1 Thessalonians 3:8-9
WRITE | Maybe you are better able to express your feelings when you write them down. If so, start writing! Send a letter via snail mail, jump on your computer and send a thoughtful email, or hand-deliver a note of gratitude. However you are able to get your words of love and appreciation to the person you want to thank, make time and do it. One beautiful part about this form of communication is that it is tangible – the person who receives your letter will be able to keep it and reference it whenever they might need encouragement, or a reminder that God is indeed using them to influence others in a real and positive way.
One of the leaders of the Youth Group I attended in High School made a very real impact on me, and was one of the first women I had ever seen in ministry. Several years went by, and I never took the time to reach out to her and let her know how powerfully God used her to draw me to Himself. She recently became a published author and her name started popping up on social media as people raved about her amazing new book! After 12 years, I finally sent her a letter of thanks. Learn from my decade of hesitation: Be intentional, make time, and write a letter of gratitude to someone today!
I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge… – 1 Corinthians 1:4-5