Monday, November 05, 2007

Thanksgiving: Prerequistes to Gratitude

It’s that time of year where we turn our hearts toward contemplation of our blessings. We ask our children what they are thankful for. We fret whether we are teaching them to merely mouth the words, “Thank you” or whether their response is from the heart.

In my last post, I talked about the need for adults to model gratitude to the children we impact. Yet, this can’t be phony either. Our kids need to see us truly thankful for what we have, for what God has given us and for the people God has enriched our lives with. Before we can be thankful, we need to learn contentment. In order for the lesson of gratitude to be authentic, we need to teach our kids to be content as well.

That’s a tough order in our possession oriented society. Temptations of all the things we could have if we wanted them abound on the tv, billboards, in other kids’ lunchboxes and on the Internet. Millions of dollars are spent each year on marketing alone to try to convince us that even though last year’s item still works just fine, we just have to have the latest model, style or upgrade.

Hebrews 13:5 says “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you.’” If our children are to learn the lesson of contentment, we need to model this for them. We need to be careful not to go overboard in buying the toys heavily advertised for this year’s Christmas. As parents we need to be cautious in buying the latest upgrade too quickly, even saying to our children, “the old version still works for us. We’ve going to wait awhile.” We need to zip our lips when we’re tempted to gripe in front of our children about how slow our computer program is, the faults we find in the caror house we just bought, or the increased price of milk. As teachers, we need to model contentment about the supplies we have in the classroom, the snacks someone donated to us, or the antiquated video equipment that doesn’t work when we want it to.

We can teach contentment by showing kids that it’s fun to make do with what we have. My family calls meal leftovers, abundance meals, and so they are! Teachers can show kids how to “make do” by making a creative craft out of the materials on hand instead of saying, “We could do this craft project if only we had. . . .”

Someone gave me a poster when I was in college that read, “Happiness is wanting what you have, not having what you want.” If we’re always aiming toward having what we want, we’ll never feel content, because there will always be something more that we could have. This week, pray that you can find a way to model contentment to the children you encounter. Then thank God together for the blessings that you have.

Hebrews 13:5 gives us the reason why we can be content. God will never let us down. He will always provide us with what we need and many times, blesses us beyond what we need.

What I’m thankful for this week:

1. My 15 year old Kitchen Aid mixer with a dough hook that still works just fine and has helped me make many a loaf of bread for family and friends.

2. My favorite gray hoodie that keeps me warm around the house so I can turn the thermostat down to save energy.

3. My Welsh Corgi who is always glad to see me when I come home and gives me Corgi kisses on the tip of my nose.

4. A new computer program that magnifies my computer screen. Better yet, it also inverts colors so I can change the font to white on black, cutting down on painful light glare.

5. A car and money to buy gas so we could go see our daughter at college this weekend whom we miss very much.

6. Two new adult classes at our church and teachers to teach them. The adult classes brought in children to our Sunday School classes. I didn’t have any seats left in my high school class yesterday. Praise God.

What are you content with this week? Share it in a comment below.

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