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Introduction
Hans Leaman, Academic Dean

At Sattler’s first commencement ceremony a few weeks ago, founder Finny Kuruvilla spoke about the twin Christian virtues of humility and gratitude as foundations for our college’s approach to higher education.  The two work together to help us recognize our indebtedness to others for what we are able to accomplish, and, hence, they help us to avoid the pride that typically undergirds our sins. Thus Sattler’s discipleship training begins with lessons on intellectual humility and gratitude, with students’ interactions with their home church communities in mind.  We ask students: despite your excitement about what you are learning in college, how can you prepare yourself spiritually to come home at Thanksgiving or Christmas break and not be a prideful “know it all”? How can you instead use your education to show gratitude to those who trained you in your home communities and make contributions through modesty?  Last week a student reflected on humility. This week a former student provides helpful tips to become more grateful people.

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Ten Ways to Cultivate a Spirit of Gratitude
Michaela Royer

Gratitude is a topic that is often overlooked. Yet it is so important, and it encompasses every aspect of our lives. James 1:2-3 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” Being grateful can make tough things more bearable; by choosing to focus on the blessings of God, we also choose not to focus on the hard things. Being grateful also has an effect on our relationships with other people and with God. When we are ungrateful, it has a negative effect on those around us. When we are grateful, it is a blessing to others. When we relate to God in a spirit of ungratefulness we are showing him that we have forgotten his blessings. We’ve all experienced the pain of not being appreciated for something that we have done for someone else, but how often have we stopped to take the time to thank and appreciate others and God for the blessings we have received? 

 

Ten Grateful Habits to Cultivate: 

  1. Start the morning by writing down things to be thankful for.  Thankfulness doesn’t have to wait until evening; beginning our day in a spirit of gratitude will set us up for a successful day. 

  2. Practice thanking people for small things. Just because someone does something for us that seems small, we can still choose to be thankful.

  3. Thank God for meals. This is one that’s easy to forget. We are eating in a hurry between classes or sitting down at the table in the middle of a conversation so we forget to say a prayer, but yes, even meals are a gift from God. 

  4. Keep a record of answered prayers. Start writing down your prayer requests and making note of when and how God answers them. When we do this consistently we will see that we have much to be thankful for and more easily remember all that God is doing in our lives.

  5. Thank God for the small things. James 1:17 says “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” We so often overlook God’s small, everyday blessings. That phone call from home when you were homesick, a friend bringing you coffee, or passing that hard exam are all small blessings that God gives us that we often forget to thank him for. Make it a habit each day to write down at least one “small” blessing God has given you each day and then thank him for that.

  6. Memorize the Psalms. David’s thankfulness throughout his trials is recorded throughout the Psalms. Memorizing the Psalms will help us remember that even when we are struggling through hard times there is always something for which we can be grateful.

  7. Take notice of the people who are often overlooked. Sometimes we view certain jobs as being “menial,” or we don’t recognize the work that goes into a job. We tend to overlook some stations in life, but everyone deserves thanks.

  8. Find a thankfulness accountability partner. Whether it’s making sure to keep each other accountable about writing in the thankfulness journal, or reminding each other to stop and be grateful throughout the day, having an accountability partner is a sure way to make sure we don’t forget or fall out of a habit of thankfulness. 

  9. Serve. When we serve other people we realize how important thankfulness is. We may see that other people are struggling more than we are, or we may just realize what it’s like to work hard and not receive thanks or recognition for our hard work. When we spend less time looking inward at what we want and more time looking outward at what others need, gratitude is the natural result.

  10. End your day with prayer. Ending each day with the Lord helps put everything into perspective. Thank God for the blessings you have received, hand your trials over to Him, and rest in His care.

If we cultivate grateful habits, we will find that even the hardest things in our lives can be more bearable and ultimately become opportunities to rejoice. Being thankful radiates Jesus to those around us, and it helps us build connections as we stop to take time to thank God and others.