Stuck in rush hour traffic, again! I used to hate it. That was before I developed the habit of intentionally thinking differently about my daily, 2 hours of commuting in bumper to bumper traffic. I used to complain about it until my little prayer warrior, my wife Lynn, reminded me about the power of gratitude. The next time I thought to feel grumpy while stuck in traffic I remembered I was sitting in traffic because I was blessed to be travelling to a job – a job that I love. I thought, how many people struggle every day just to survive and here I am whining about going to work! Wow, I should be ashamed. I instantly felt grateful. That slight adjustment in my thinking has forever changed the way I feel about the daily commute. Time in traffic is now an opportunity to spend some time in what Matthew Kelly calls the “classroom of silence”. Rush hour traffic is a great time for prayer, and prayer changes things. It is amazing how the condition of our lives can be dramatically transformed, by simply changing the way we think!
“A grateful heart silences a complaining voice!”[i]
The Stewardship Virtue of Gratitude
Gratitude to God has the power to unleash in us the kind of peace of mind and joy that nothing else in this world can even come close to providing. This Holy joy inspires a life that is lived well. The fruit of such a life is stewardship that has real impact! The impact is first and foremost felt in our own day-to-day living.
When we develop the daily habit of gratitude our eyes are opened to the abundance of God’s blessings in our lives, and all around us; and, this creates in us the confidence, and the intense desire to take care of it all, and to share a generous portion of it with others. Gratitude to God has changed my vision of the purpose and meaning of life. In addition, when we cultivate the virtue of gratitude in our lives we are liberated from any feelings of want, envy, or dissatisfaction. This is very freeing and give us peace.
Gratitude to God inspires stewardship that flows freely and joyfully. When we are grateful to God it strengthens our hope because we know that our good and gracious God, the source of all our gifts, always provides for our needs, and even some of our wants. In appreciation for God’s gifts to us, the gifts we share are given without any fear of having enough; shared without conditions or expectations. Gratitude moves us to joyful generosity.
Gratitude to God inspires a transition from ‘giving to a need’ to ‘needing to give’.
Lynn and I began our journey in stewardship in 1992. We were under intense financial pressure at the time because of the loss of our business. Still, we recall that somehow, with God’s grace, we were always able to get by. We were so filled with gratitude to God we just had to give something back! Every Sunday we would write the check for our Church offering and place it in the basket with the thought “Here you are God, thanks for getting us through another week!” That is a sentiment we still hold fast to today. Gratitude to God has inspired us to make the transition from ‘giving to a need’ to ‘needing to give’.
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” [ii]
A stewardship virtue that is enhanced by gratitude is simplicity. One of the joys of simplicity is that it gives us the freedom from being caught up in the excessive, and unnecessary, consumer debt that plagues so many people today. Good stewards know it is better to strive for meaning and purpose in life, rather than be caught up in the relentless, and exhausting, pursuit of the things our culture says will make us happy.
The abundant life is not about having what we want…
It’s about wanting what we have.
Life-changing gratitude comes from recognizing God in everything, all day, and every day. Everyday gratitude to God creates the conditions for us to experience daily moments of awe. This forever changes how we experience and enjoy life!
Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think.
Three good habits to cultivate the virtue of gratitude in your life:
- Place a ‘Gratitude Habit’ white board on your fridge, or start a list on your smart phone, record 3 new things you are grateful for every day.
- Every night before you fall asleep reflect back on the day and give thanks to God for his gifts that day.
- Be on guard to catch yourself before complaining and look for something to be grateful for…we are all blessed in so many ways it will not be hard to find something to be grateful for.
Joseph Daniel Potvin, Joppa Stewardship Leaders, Ottawa, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
[i] Bishop Eugene John Gerber (1931 – 2018)
[ii] Cicero (106–43bc) Roman statesman, orator, lawyer and philosopher