|"Day After Thanksgiving"|
Virtues in our children develop best when thankfulness is a part of everyday life. Hundreds of years ago, Cicero thought that gratitude was the greatest virtue and that other qualities, like courage, begin with gratitude. Recent work by Michael Zigarelli discovered the same thing. In his study of five thousand Christians, Zigarelli found that a mindset of gratitude is by far the top factor in developing a Christ-like character (Regent Business Review, Issue 17).
How does gratitude develop the virtue of courage? As a child thinks about his blessings and expresses gratitude, the focus goes from self to the Giver of the blessings. As he considers the Giver more and more, he learns to trust more, knowing that God is intimately involved in his life. He learns to love God and people, develops passions, and holds loosely his time and treasures since they are gifts to him, anyway. Considering the blessings gracefully poured on his life helps him give his life to something larger and to Someone who has great plans for him. Gratitude helps him know his frailties don’t matter when it is God who empowers him, guides him, and rescues him.
As we model gratitude every day and help our children see how deeply they are blessed, courage is only one of the virtues that will grow in their lives. Considering God’s goodness and expressing thankfulness to Him brings our children to a place of joy and freedom to become who they are meant to be. Courage begins with gratitude not only on Thanksgiving, but the day after and every day following. How can we build gratitude into our lives so our children are thankful people?