This post was written by Cera Talamantes, a member of the INCM Blog team.
“Being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude.” (Colossians 2:7)
I love this time of year. The weather is changing. The colors are vibrant, and I’m bursting with all things turkey and pumpkin. Cue falling leaves, warm cups of coffee, and cozy blankets with a good book.
But as the end of the year draws closer, and we enter into a time typically filled with busyness and celebrations, life looks and feels different.
Although we begin a season spotlighting thankfulness and gratitude, it can be easy to forget what we need to be thankful for the most.
Especially because most of us have been navigating a season of difficulty, for some a season of silence, and all a season of uncertainty.
We are walking with hope in one hand and grief in the other. And brothers and sisters, we are not alone.
Creating a mindset that has a foundation built upon gratitude to our Heavenly Father does life-changing things.
It not only alters the ground you walk on and your daily life, but it impacts those around you.
That’s why we must grow gratitude.
So how do we cultivate intentional gratitude in our lives as leaders to the next generation? I believe there are three ways to start.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)
This has been a difficult year for all of us in different ways. Identifying the hurt and loss helps us call upon the Lord specifically in those areas of weakness where we have no control. Thank Him that even in our weakness, we can find peace in the promise He is always there and will give us strength.
Also, we must recognize where we see Him actively working and moving in our lives, or in the lives of others around us. It requires a practice of naming the things we are thankful for in our daily lives, no matter how small they may seem. For example, today, I am thankful for my daily warm cup of coffee.
It’s through gratitude for the small and seemingly humble, ordinary things that we build our capacity to be intentionally grateful for more important things like being thankful for my husband, son, and daughter. Or for the ways God is working in my community and in the amazing people in the INCM Community.
The gratitude then grows to recognizing God for the call of ministry in my life. Upon these foundations, the gratitude can grow all the way up to be thankful for God the Father, and the promise of His love. There are ways to grow gratitude, and it starts with humility.
Being intentional in our gratitude takes work. Identifying what you are thankful for and actively seeking to praise God for those things develops a rhythm of gratitude that will transcend the way you think, interact with others, and how you love and see yourself.
When we are diligent about acknowledging how and where God is working in our lives, our hearts and eyes are open to see other areas where we may have missed His good work.
Throughout His ministry, there are multiple examples of Jesus offering up thanks to his father. He was intentional in prayer and thanksgiving, rising early in the morning and staying up late at night to pray and be with God. From what I’ve seen in life all good things take work; ultimately the hard, intentional work to grow gratitude is worth it.
If we can learn to focus on the One who has given us tremendous reasons to be grateful, then we can prepare our hearts and minds to reciprocate the unending love we receive.
We easily lose sight of where and how God is already working in our lives. When we focus our attention back on gratitude to God, he will ignite within our hearts a peace that can only be found in Him and a love that covers all hurts and all circumstances.
When we seek His kingdom first, we can thank him for the strength to have walked thus far, and for the path He has laid before us. There is a confidence in knowing that.
And the focus can grow gratitude because we aren’t distracted by the other things that aren’t worthy of it.
When we come to him in humility regularly acknowledging our shortcomings, it reminds us to be grateful for all that God uses us to do and be. When we are intentional in giving our thanks to God even in the hard times or for the small things, it changes how we feel, how we see the world around us, and how our hearts react in every situation. And when we focus our attention on being grateful to the Father, we can learn to see from God’s perspective.
Practicing gratitude can even be a group effort. My family has been working through a family gratitude calendar. At one point, my sweet 7-year-old daughter said she was most thankful for God, for who He was and is, and that He loves us no matter what. Amen, sweet girl.
Intentional gratitude takes work, but it is a superpower when we embrace it. So, tie on your cape. Humbly look to God in your situation. And say thank you. There is strength in growing gratitude.
Let God’s love empower you.
Cera Talamantes has served in ministry for over a decade, volunteering in different areas but was called most to preschool and children’s ministry. Cera and her husband, Joseluis, have two incredible kids. Their family loves spending time together making lasting memories and having crazy Uno game nights.