This past week I had the opportunity to share briefly in a chapel service at our school. The theme was thankfulness and gratitude. Whether in the Thanksgiving season or beyond, learning the art of gratitude is important for leaders and followers alike.
The Good and the Bad of Future Focus
But nurturing a spirit of gratitude comes more naturally for some.
As I consider my personal tendencies and strengths, one of the tendencies that can work against a spirit of gratitude is an orientation toward the future.
Future focus has many benefits. As leaders, a focus on the future is important for planning and strategic thinking. I take up the importance of this theme in another post (see Strategic Foresight).
But future focus has a down side as well. At times, this future orientation can work against nurturing a spirit of gratitude. Sometimes gratitude and thanksgiving are not primarily about looking to the future, but rather reflecting on the past and being present in the moment.
Thankfulness through Remembering
The Bible affirms the value of remembering throughout the pages of Scripture. Remembering what God has done in your life and in the lives of those around you is often the seedbed from which thanksgiving and gratitude arise.
One example of this is in Psalm 105 where the author calls the reader to give thanks to God by remembering well:
“Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name….
Remember the wondrous works that he has done”
(Psalm 105: 1 & 5).
If you are like many leaders, it is easy to have your sights set on the future and where your team and organization are headed. But are you taking time to pause for gratitude? Are you taking time to pause and be present in the moment and to look to the past with thankfulness?
Walking Down Gratitude Road
As you consider nurturing a spirit of gratitude, perhaps you may need to join with me in taking time to pause and look at the present and the past. In this act we have the opportunity to see the faithfulness of God in our lives. As we look back and remember well, we begin to see that through both the joy-filled and difficult days, we have much for which to be thankful.
I hope you will be able to take some time in this season to nurture a spirit of gratitude in your life and leadership. Learn to remember well; learn to remember with gratitude.
Reprinted from Purpose in Leadership.