3. Create a Habit of Giving Thanks
Giving thanks to God isn’t an afterthought in the Christian life—it’s one of our most important responsibilities. The Bible promotes a habit of thanksgiving. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 reads, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Giving thanks in “all circumstances” means two things. First, our thanksgiving should be continual, just like our worship. Second, our thanksgiving shouldn’t be conditioned by our circumstances, for whether they are overwhelmingly bad or good, there is always something to be thankful for.
Routinely taking inventory of what we’re thankful for and vocalizing it grows our gratitude like a muscle. This muscle can help all of us—including our children—power through the ups and downs of life by creating a lifeline of stability in the spiritual sense. Our Creator knew we’d need it and we’d be happier for it, and the research backs this up.
I often ask my children to say five things that they’re thankful for on our way to school. A bonus of this practice is that it resets any rough mornings too! The pattern of giving thanks can be integrated into the day at any time, like at mealtime or bedtime as well. Regularity allows children to anticipate it and become mindful of their lists on their own.
4. Model a Thankful Heart
What we model is our children’s best teacher. When we acknowledge a gift from God’s hand in our life and give thanks for it in front of our children, it encourages them to do the same. Colossians 3:17 reads, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Everything we do—our words and deeds—should spring from a thankful heart as we seek to model Christ.
Fostering a continuously thankful heart is a discipline. Paul gives us a snapshot into the necessary mindset to succeed at it by saying, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). Paul knew that life can be difficult; he had suffered through hardships like being blinded, falsely accused, arrested, beaten, and shipwrecked. His exhortation is a strategic profession of how believers can remain strong, effective, and grateful as ministers for Christ.