One of the great desires of my life is to finish well. At the end of my race, I want to be able to say with Paul, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
There are many aspects to lifelong faithfulness, but I think one of the most overlooked is thankfulness.
When I’m consistently thankful for what God has done in my life and His calling me into the ministry, there’s a much better chance for me to be faithful. Conversely, when I’m constantly weighed down by the challenges of ministry and focused on the negative aspects of either my past or present, I am less likely to continue my race with joy and consistency.
If anyone had reason to complain about the burdens of ministry, it was the apostle Paul. Beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned, often in danger…yet, Paul gave thanks for the privilege of being in ministry.
And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;—1 Timothy 1:12
As you give thanks this week, don’t forget to give thanks to God for His calling on your life.
Give thanks for the teaching and mentoring others have invested in your life.
Give thanks for the experiences and opportunities God has given you.
Give thanks for the truths entrusted to you to share with others.
I know that sometimes we look back at our early years in ministry and we think we need to unlearn idiosyncrasies of our mentors or misapplied truths. But when I look back at my heritage, for the most part, I don’t find myself unlearning but being grateful for what I learned.
If gratitude relates to thankfulness in ministry, it does in parenting as well. If I cease to be thankful, my children and grandchildren will assume that what I was previously grateful for is no longer important. And their faithfulness may falter as well.
Every reader of the this blog has seen good churches and good families that have lost passion and biblical convictions. I would suggest that it often began with an unthankful heart.
When a pastor or parent ceases to be thankful for what they have been taught or those who have invested in their life, when they change their directional course in their family or ministry philosophy, you will notice the generational impact for years to come. Family values can change, educational choices can change. Passion for good and godly things can change.
On the other hand, all of us have seen people in their later years (Dr. Sisk and my mother, who went home to be with the Lord this morning, are two who come to mind) still faithful in the things of God and in reaching others with the gospel. Without exception, the men and women like this I have known are grateful people.
Thankfulness strengthens faithfulness. Give thanks.