The beginning of my thankfulness journey started with a painful conversation 22 years ago with an employee who told me that I rarely thanked them for their work. I remember being surprised by this comment. But then I took some time to process it and decided that perhaps this was an opportunity for me to grow in this area. I began challenging myself to enter my world with appreciation and thankfulness. Here are some things I realized that helped me learn to be more grateful:

You are called to be thankful

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus,” 1 Thessalonians 5:18. When I know that I am called to be thankful, I know the Holy Spirit will help me do it. It is not up to me alone. He will give me just what I need to be thankful. He will whisper ways for me to appreciate someone or something. And He will not give up until a heart of gratitude is formed in me, even when I struggle on hard days.

Look for things to be grateful for

This may seem a little simplistic for those of you who do this naturally, but if you are making a change, you have to be very intentional and start small. Each time I got an email from that employee I looked for something I could thank her for. Each time I interacted with someone, I would try to see what I could say “thank you” for. I had to work on noticing the things I was grateful each day so I could communicate them to others.

“Catch them doing good”

I needed to move from looking at others and noticing what was wrong, to noticing what they were doing well. During my early years of training to be an elementary school teacher, my professors taught us that we needed to “catch people doing good” and immediately acknowledge what they were doing right. I learned that appreciation was a powerful tool in encouraging kids and helping them stay on the right path. It became a fun game for me to try to find things every day to celebrate with my students.

Celebrate the small stuff

The other day I had forgotten my purse and I only had my cell phone. My daughter needed a quick birthday surprise for a friend. We went into a small store that took Apple pay. With a little help, I learned how to use it. I may have seemed a little silly but I kind of went a little crazy celebrating my first time use of Apple pay. But it made life fun and allowed me to celebrate and thank the people who helped me learn a new skill! Taking the opportunity to celebrate is another way to be thankful.

Thankfulness opens the door to worship

As I began to express thankfulness more and more to people in my life, I noticed I started to be more and more thankful to God. I started talking to God throughout the day as I saw Him doing things that I was grateful for. Soon, I noticed that when I worshipped I was more open and grateful. Thankfulness opens the door to worship and we begin to see how worthy of worship God is.

These are just a few of the ways that learning to be appreciative and thankfulness have helped me grow as a person. I wonder how God might change you as you take opportunities to be thankful!

About The Author


Laura Elliott is the Editorial Director of Pioneer Clubs.  She has experience in teaching (7 years), editing (16 years), children’s ministry (30 years), and being a mom to three kids (18 years).  She loves thinking about how to introduce children to Jesus , and how to partner with parents  and the church to create an environment in both places where dynamic faith can grow.