We Give Thanks…

By on November 1, 2012   /   Leave a comment

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:18-19, NLT). With Thanksgiving Day at the end of this month, it’s a great reminder about the significance of expressing thanks in our ministry. First of all, we give thanks to the Lord, the One who calls us, comforts us, equips us, provides for us, and propels us into His work…what a privilege! We also give thanks to those people He has brought into our lives to partner with us in the Great Commission, sharing His love, doing His will.

In recent years, I’ve mailed Thanksgiving cards to my ministry partners, thanking them for their essential part in helping make my ministry possible. I hand write my ministry partner’s name and address on the envelope and card, plus write a brief note to them. I also enclose a personalized printed ministry update. My expression of gratitude needs to be as personal as possible and my partners need encouragement and affirmation in their role. We owe it to them to give thanks because we have received so much from them. We need to give thanks to them, for their sakes and ours. It is right and honorable, encouraging and strengthening!

Because you yourself have received, give thanks often.

Henri Nouwen said it this way,
“From beginning to end, fund raising as ministry
is grounded in prayer and undertaken in gratitude.”

In contrast to the benefit of expressing thanks, it is important to consider the damage which may occur when we fail to appropriately thank someone for their generosity. Having donated to many people and ministries over the years, I’ve learned how it feels when there’s little or no response. Even though I’m not giving in order to get thanks, there is something that goes awry when it doesn’t come. I don’t feel appreciated. I pull back. I question whether the gift was needed. This absence of appreciation has the potential for damaging the relationship between ministry workers and their supporters.

Even Jesus experienced this failure of receiving thanks when only one of ten lepers He healed returned to thank Him (Luke 17:12-19). Jesus’ response to the one leper was, “Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?…Stand up and go…Your faith has healed you.” Could it be our expressions of gratitude is also an expression of our faith at work? I know ungratefulness is a common human trait and it may be that missionaries sometimes fail to say thank you because of forgetfulness or being too busy doing “God’s work.” Let’s make a commitment that even if no one else comes back to thank their donors, you and I will be the one out of ten who does so!

Could it be our expressions of gratitude is also an expression of our faith at work?

Lastly, letting our ministry partners know that they have heard from God and been obedient givers may be of tremendous encouragement to them. Paul gave the faithful Philippian church due honor by stating that they were the only ones who gave. We should let our supporters know how precious they are to us and how crucial their support is to our ministries. How will they know unless we tell them, unless we give them honor and say something like, “Do you know that God used you profoundly? You were the only ones that gave, and I want you to know how grateful I am.” During this Thanksgiving season, may we all grow in grateful hearts and in our expressions of thanks, to God and to others.


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