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28 November

Carrying Thankfulness with You in Ministry

It was one of those Sundays when it seemed everything had gone wrong. I wasn't in the mood to worship--I just wanted to survive the next hour so I could go home and hide. Being thankful was the last thing on my mind. But then the praise team played the opening notes of "Count Your Blessings." As we sang and people called out their blessings across the sanctuary, my mood shifted. I had much to be thankful for--including our congregation.

Thankfulness should characterize our ministries. Paul directly told congregations that he was thankful for them and prayerfully thanked God for them in nine of his thirteen New Testament letters. Paul cultivated an attitude of thankfulness toward the congregations he served--even congregations he sometimes had a strained relationship with. He didn't shy away from correcting problems, but he chose to be thankful for the way God demonstrated his grace among the churches he planted and served.

We also need to choose thankfulness in ministry. Sometimes it's hard to do. Our brains are hardwired to hold on to negative information more than positive information. Researchers say it takes five positive comments to outweigh one negative one. Perhaps that's why the criticisms and the slights are easier for us to remember than the positive things about ministry. And when we let ourselves dwell on that negativity, it sets us up to become bitter toward our congregations.

Choosing thanksgiving cancels out that negativity, It forces us to be attentive toward what God is doing and how he is blessing us--even in the midst of challenging circumstances. In ministry, choosing thanksgiving allows us to see how God is at work around us.

This week, try beginning your prayers for your church by thanking God for them. Thank God for:
  • Lives that are being transformed
  • People who love one another well
  • Those who give generously to one another
  • Those who hold on to faith despite life's challenges
  • People who are willing to speak the truth
  • Those who faithfully serve
  • How God displays his grace and glory in your congregation
The list could go on, but perhaps this can help you get started. Write down your list of thanksgivings and look back at it when times get hard. Choosing thanksgiving puts our attention back on Christ and helps us love well in ministry.

About the author:
Leigh Powers is the author of Renewed: A 40-Day Devotional for Healing from Church Hurt and for Loving Well in Ministry. She is passionate about helping women find hope and healing by meeting God in his Word. You can connect with Leigh on Facebook or Twitter, or follow her at her blog, My Life. His Story (www.leighpowers.com).

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