Gratitude or Grumbletude?
Joey and Carla Link
November 20, 2019
At Thanksgiving we are taught to be thankful for all the blessings God has given us. But before our kids can be thankful, they need to appreciate what they have and what they don’t have.
I remember taking the teens of our church on a “Planned Famine” when I was a youth pastor in Southern California. It is a 30 hour program sponsored by World Vision International to help teens learn and care about world hunger. Teens enlist sponsors to financially support them through the long 30 hours they don’t get to eat. The money would be used for world hunger projects.
While they drank juices and soups at meals, there was no food. The liquid kept their blood sugar up but by no means filled their empty stomachs. At the end of the 30 hours, the teens shared what they learned before having dinner together. These kids did not share thankfulness for food, they shared “gratefulness“.
Being thankful is a
being grateful is an action.
If you were to ask most grandparents they would say “kids today enjoy their stuff but aren’t grateful for what they have been given.” The teens in the 30 hour fast learned to be grateful for food.
How can you help your kids be more grateful?
- Have them read what the Pilgrims actually lived through as they landed in America. Find a book you can read as a family this month at dinner.
- Have them learn what it was like for the pilgrims to cross the ocean without GPS and weather apps. Living with the fear of unknown storms and or running into pirates with no protection, it was a perilous undertaking.
- Do they know kids who have a parent who has cancer, or whose dad is out of work? Talk through what hardships they face and how your family can encourage them.
- Ask them how they can show they are grateful for things they take for granted-like food, water and a bathroom!
Show them how to do without
- Challenge your teen’s to go a week without using their cell phone and they will be grateful for it when they get it back. Take away the computer, video games, movies, TV and all electronics for a week or two and they will begin to be grateful for their entertainment value.
- Take a long drive to a place you have never been before and tell your kids they have to figure out how to get there with no GPS or the internet.
At a Teen Camp a few years ago, I took the teens into a room with no windows with all the lights on for the Sunday morning session. I began worship by teaching on the early Christians from Acts and how they had such great fellowship, worship and teaching. I said we are going to have church like they did this morning.
Then I turned off the lights, lit one candle and said there was no power in the days of the early church. I asked them to assume I was not there and asked them to start without me.
- They asked for song sheets and I said they didn’t have a copy machine, so no song sheets.
- They tried to sing from memory and they fumbled through the words that they didn’t remember.
- One started to read from her Bible what she had learned in her Quiet Time earlier that morning but I asked her to put it away because they didn’t have Bibles back then either.
After 20 minutes, we turned the lights back on and started to truly worship. They were very open to the teaching that morning as they worshiped together and built each other up in their faith.
How can you help teach your kids how to be grateful this Thanksgiving for what they have, where they live and the family they are blessed to be in?
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
let us shout joyfully to Him. Psalm 95:2