the shape of leadership

Enter 2020 With Thanksgiving

A New Year’s resolution worth pursuing

Kent Ingle on December 20, 2019

The start of a new year is the season to make resolutions and discover the best version of ourselves. We seek ways to become more organized, more fit, more productive and more successful in leading our churches. But do we ever consider how being more grateful could improve our minds, our lives and our ministries?

According to a study from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, most people who make New Year’s resolutions fail to keep them. In fact, 30% don’t even make it past the two-week mark.

While self-improvement can be healthy and good, maybe we’re entering the year a little too self-absorbed. Perhaps we need to shift our focus as we move into 2020.

The Bible has little to say about personal wish lists, physical appearance, and career objectives. But Scripture talks a great deal about giving thanks. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

When we shift our focus from what we want to what God has already blessed us with, our perspective on everything drastically changes. It shapes our thoughts, habits, and, ultimately, our ministry work, bringing our hearts and lives into alignment with God’s design.

Consider starting the new year with a resolution to live in gratitude and thankfulness, and you may see all the areas of your life and leadership improve more than you thought possible.

When we shift our focus from what we want to what God has already blessed us with, our perspective on everything drastically changes.

Here are five simple ways to start off the new year with thanksgiving:

1. Focus on experiences with others rather than gaining more things. When we fixate on material things, we end up neglecting what matters most: loving God and people.

2. Count your blessings. It’s easy to fall into a pattern in our prayer lives of asking more than thanking. Dedicate time each day to thank God for His blessings. If you keep a journal, make it a goal to write down what you’re thankful for on a daily basis.

3. Express gratitude to others. Write a letter thanking a friend, family member or mentor — or take the time to tell people in person why you are grateful for them. Not only will you bless others, but you’ll also improve your own outlook. In a University of California, Berkeley, study involving people with depression and anxiety, those who wrote a letter of gratitude to another person each week for 12 weeks significantly improved their mental health.

4. Seek ways to give out of gratitude. Genuine gratitude inspires action. Practice giving as an expression of gratitude, not just out of a sense of obligation.

5. Choose contentment over want. Gratefulness is a choice. If you continually choose to want for all you don’t have, you will continually feel a sense of discontent. Choose gratitude and contentment instead.

If we desire more fulfillment in 2020, we should cultivate a heart of gratitude. Scripture frequently reminds us to live a life of praise. Psalm 92:1 says, “It is good thing to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O most High.”

Rather than making a daunting list of self-improvement goals this year, simply seek to be more grateful, and you will quickly find your life changing for the better.

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