Gratitude. Often overlooked and forgotten…

I am sure you have heard statements like “an attitude of gratitude is very important for you to be a successful person.” I do agree with this statement, but sometimes we don't have the ability to recall reasons to truly be grateful.

Have you ever found yourself in a position where you know somewhere in the back of your mind that you should be thankful or grateful for what is taking place around you? But, for the life of you, it just does not seem possible to remember any valid reason why you should be grateful? I have found myself in positions where I have become very grumpy, discouraged, or even disillusioned. Trust me. You are not alone! I am sure that this is a particular tactic of the enemy – one that we cannot just blame on getting older. I'm sure that the devil would love to use our own flesh against us. Sometimes we give him too much credit though.

Let me share with you a few tips, so that you can learn to be more grateful than ever before.

1. Grab a pen and some paper. Better yet, grab a journal that you can use for more than one prayer time! Open it up and get ready to write.

2. Spend some time in prayer and ask the Lord, through His Holy Spirit, to bring to your mind all of His goodness, mercy, and provision that has been extended to you in the recent weeks and months.

3. As the Holy Spirit brings things to your memory, begin to write down all of the different things that God has done for you. Here's a couple examples as a primer.

a. He has given you food to eat.

b. You have been able to pay bills.

c. You have a written copy of the Bible, unlike millions around the world.

d. You have experienced salvation, which has been made available by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

e. If you are reading this, you have the ability to see.

f. Also, if you are reading this, most likely you are doing so from a smart phone or a computer of some sort.

4. After you have spent some time writing a number of things down in your journal, let me encourage you to go get a highlighter. Now, use your highlighter to differentiate the different kinds of things that the Lord has done for you. Use one color for spiritual blessings. Use another color for answered prayers. Use another color for basic provisions. I'm sure you're getting the idea now!

5. Now, review these things and pray, while thanking God for all that He has done for you.

6. Next, rejoice in these provisions and blessings that have been given to you by our incredible God!

7. Lastly, repent if you have been ungrateful for all that the Lord has done for you.

Journaling helps get one’s feelings to surface as words are put on a page. Knowing what you are feeling will better allow you to ask God to meet you where you are and to help you identify the proven track record of faithfulness of our God. This process will help us gain perspective. Also, this will help us battle discouragement which comes from the lies of the enemy.

Let me give a few other tips for remaining grateful.

Just as you made a list in your journal and spent some time with the Lord in prayer, you can use a similar tactic to write down the various things that you are grateful about when it comes to your family, friends, coworkers, and other people. Then, you can use this list as a reminder so you can bless others while you are in conversation with them.

Here's an example. I'm grateful that my son mowed the lawn and took care of the trash without me asking. Although this should be a chore that is completed without me asking, I am grateful for him taking the initiative to do it without me having to remind him. Now that this is at the top of my mind, I can mention it to him in a conversation in the coming days – how I am grateful for him growing as a responsible, young man. This will enforce his mindset of responsibility and show him that he is loved and valued.

Gratefulness becomes a testimony of the faithfulness of God in our lives. Those who can live an exemplary, invisible life of gratitude and thankfulness for others to see will be a testimony for friends, family, and others around them. Everyone remembers grumpy people. However, nobody wants to be around those who are grumpy and ungrateful. But even more so, people remember those who are bubbling over with thankfulness and gratitude! These are the kind of people that attract friends in relationships. Everyone wants to be around someone who is filled with joy, gratitude, and thankfulness!

Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not remind you that Scripture tells us that we must enter the gates with Thanksgiving. Before we even make it to the presence of God, we are to approach His gates with a thankful heart and attitude. If you have found that it seems you are distant from God's presence lately, then it is quite possible that you need to adjust your attitude as you approach Him. Start with thankfulness and gratitude and see if the gates to God's presence seem to be opened wide for you!

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Loneliness is a common human experience that transcends age, occupation, and social status. Even in the context of church ministry, where pastors and leaders are surrounded by a congregation, it’s possible to feel isolated and alone. This article explores the unique challenges of loneliness within church ministry and offers strategies that I myself am using to combat it.

The Loneliness Paradox

At first glance, it might seem paradoxical that individuals in church ministry, who are often surrounded by a community of believers, can experience loneliness. However, ministry can be isolating for several reasons:

Role Expectations:

​ Pastors and leaders are often seen as spiritual guides, and there’s an expectation that they should have it all together. This can make it challenging for them to admit their struggles, including loneliness.

Lack of Peer Relationships:

​ While pastors and leaders have strong connections with their congregations, they may lack close peer relationships within their own ministry circles. They often shoulder the burdens of others but may not have someone to share their own burdens with.

High Stress Levels:

​ The demands of church ministry, including sermon preparation, pastoral care, and administrative tasks, can lead to high stress levels. This stress can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Strategies to Combat Loneliness

  1. Seek Accountability:

    Pastors and leaders should actively seek out mentors or peers with whom they can build accountability relationships. These relationships provide a safe space to share struggles and receive support.

  2. Prioritize Self-Care:

    Ministry can be all-consuming, leaving little time for personal well-being. It’s crucial to prioritize self-care, including regular exercise, rest, and time for hobbies that bring joy and relaxation.

  3. Establish Boundaries:

    Set clear boundaries for work hours and responsibilities. Overextending oneself can lead to burnout and increased feelings of loneliness.

  4. Foster Peer Connections:

    Create opportunities for pastors and leaders within your church community to connect and build peer relationships. This can be done through small groups, retreats, or regular meetings specifically for leaders.

  5. Spiritual Discipline:

    Deepen your spiritual discipline. Regular prayer, meditation of the word, and reflection can provide a sense of connection with God, helping to alleviate loneliness.

  6. Professional Counseling:

    Don’t hesitate to seek professional counseling if loneliness becomes overwhelming. Therapists can provide guidance and support to address these feelings.

Loneliness in church ministry is a real and challenging issue. However, with awareness and proactive steps, pastors and leaders can combat these feelings and create a more supportive and connected ministry environment. Remember that it’s okay to seek help and that you don’t have to battle loneliness alone. By prioritizing self-care, seeking peer relationships, and deepening your spiritual discipline, you can find greater fulfillment and connectedness in your ministry journey.

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