I’m not sure when or how it happened. But I am most confident that it did indeed happen. Americans lost the art of being a gracious and grateful people. In our white hat hero culture, we started believing that life was better if we spent our days proving that we were number 1.
Don’t get me wrong. I too have spent years with that desire. In business I wanted to be wealthy and was passionately attempting to be the model of a “self-made-man.” When I entered the ministry world, I did the same thing. I wasn’t seeking wealth at that point. I was seeking something far more heady and allusive. I was seeking to be wild successful as a speaker, writer and be recognized as a guy that could “make it happen.” I lead churches and organizations with a ruthless, dogmatic, CEO leadership style and in some narcissistic way, I justified my self-serving actions.
After the death of my wife, my mom, my dad, marrying Jenny and blending six daughters, then losing everything we owned trying to hang on in the global financial crisis, God had finally gotten my attention. I’m really sorry that you lost 50% of your retirement portfolio just so I would hear the voice of God – my bad!
After shallow dreams were shattered and a significant dose of humility forced upon me, I began what would become the most joy-filled days of my life. I promised myself and felt compelled to promise God that I would never be a pastor…never!
Well, through all of the hurt, loss and heartache something life-altering started developing within me.I was allowed the privilege to be the Lead Pastor at Sugar Hill Church. The one thing that I promised I would never do, I did. AND I WAS SO GRATEFUL!
In that gratitude, I discovered something that changed the trajectory of my life. I discovered the secret sauce to life! Being grateful for what I had and grateful for health and freedom, family and ministry started changing the outcomes of my days. Gratitude instigated kindness in my life. Who knew that being gracious and grateful would lead to the greatest commodities of my life…PEACE and FREEDOM? Well Paul knew when he penned these words; “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”
Please do not hear me assume that I have arrived. I have simply become contented with the peace and freedom that accompanies a life filled with gratitude. It would appear that America could use a healthy dose of the church acting in gracious gratitude. I know how it has radically changed my life and I’m confident it will “make America great again.”
Ponder on this quote from Melody Beattie; “Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”