I am very thankful for this season of life. A lot has changed for both dear Danielle and myself, as well as so many of you. At the time of this blog being posted, we will be on the road back to North Carolina. We’re not sure of what’s next for us, but we know that God has got a plan for our lives. I have been thinking back to our time here in Florida, and I am overwhelmed with thanks. This season is good for reflection, living a thankful life allows me to have a clear mind and see all the growth that has happened. That’s what this thanksgiving holiday has always meant to me, I think about all that has happened and have a chance to look back with thanks for all the joys in my life.

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Gratitude in Every Season

I love the changing of the seasons. Sure, it’s just the weather shifting but I love the way it marks the end of one thing and the beginning of another. I think our lives constantly go through the changing of seasons. We enter one phase while experiencing the growth of another. Each season brings with it new challenges and new joys, and there is always an opportunity for each of us. As I continue with this series on living a thankful life, I want to take a look today at the importance of understanding the power of the past and how having gratitude can change our future.

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Thank Full

I think everyone has significant moments in their life. Moments that have shaped us and made us who we are, and often, these are not too happy of memories. It’s such a tragedy that our lives encounter terrible heartache, yet it’s how we grow and mature. It’s almost Thanksgiving, and while most of the time we are focused on family and delicious foods, I think it’s important during this time to look back at the moments that have shaped us. What you’ll find, and it’s something that I myself have found, is that these key moments, good and bad, have shaped us into a stronger person than we once were. I titled this post the way I did because I think living a life full of thanks, allows us to have deep joy and love well.

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Grateful Heart

November is here! I always love this season. The leaves have changed, the weather is perfect for jackets, and the thanksgiving season is all around. I love what thanksgiving represents, not the whole pilgrims being murderer’s thing, but the mindset of being thankful for the things in our lives. Family, friends, passions, dreams; all of it have been given to us by a God that loves us. Sometimes, life pushes against this mindset. The enemy attacks, we enter hardship, and find it hard to have joy in our lives. We have blessings, but choose to have bitterness of what we don’t have. We have a choice to make. Do we let what we perceive as failures and setbacks as an excuse to live bitter? Or do we let these propel us into our future? This is something I have been wrestling through; walking through these rough moments that make me question what God’s plan in all of it is. The truth is, and this is a truth for all of us, God has a plan, we just have to trust him with a grateful heart.

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Last night I was given the honor of preaching a message about prayer to Daystar Church’s Vert student ministry. I was overwhelmed with this opportunity, all in a good way, filled with joy is a good description. I was continuing a series about one simple idea each week, my idea was speak. Essentially I spoke about how when life starts to get really hard, we need to speak to God so he can give us peace. Habakkuk was the book I read from and it boils down to how as humans we only have a small piece to the larger picture that God has for our lives. I won’t spend too much time on what I said last night because I want to talk about another topic, the feeling about giving the message itself. Who knows maybe I’ll write about Habakkuk and prayer in a book someday.

The process leading up to me speaking was filled with guidance from my mentors and advice from those close around me in my life. These people gave me powerful encouragement and supported me, and after giving the message, I was filled with thankfulness. Thankful for the support and advice from my friends and mentors. Thankful for my family who have and always will believe in me and help me in my passions. Thankful for my Savior and his giving me the strength to even stand on the stage and say the words at all. My spirit is filled with gratitude.

Thankfulness, or gratitude, is letting others know you see how they’ve helped you.

I’ve noticed while being a leader in different areas, and observing greater leaders who have guided me, when you step away from pride and give others the credit where it is due, your influence and validity is increased. There has never been an effective leader who believes they have done everything by themselves. Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” No one will follow someone who believes they can do everything on their own, a good leader recognizes they are weak alone and that true strength comes from their team and from our creator.

Pride causes destruction, but gratitude creates a strong culture.

The best part about gratitude and thankfulness is that it is simple. That definition I used above was what we taught the Elementary in Daystar Kids this past November. The definition was made simple and easy to understand and apply, even for a child. So why then is it hard as an adult in ministry or in our daily lives? It is because we fear losing the glory, the attention that can come from the eyes of onlookers. This is a lie that the enemy has convinced us of to prevent us from stepping into leadership in every aspect of our lives. Every leader has a team, and as believers we have a creator who has given us the skills in the first place. We were created to do God’s vision for our lives, we were made to lead his people into the kingdom. Without him, we can do nothing. When we recognize what he has done and give the glory back to him, we are able to step into our potential.

Thankfulness gives honor to those around us, and is an act of worship to our Father in heaven.

To bring this to a closing, I want to let everyone know how thankful I am for those who have helped me get to the place where I am today. If I went through life isolated, I would never have a passion or a purpose, I would be absolutely unable to lead. So today I am reflecting on that fact, and plan to show my gratitude in every area of my life. I encourage you to think of all the people who have been in your life and strengthened your character. Remember your creator who gives you your passions and gifts, remember how much he has moved in your life. Be thankful.

-Joshua Thomas

p.s. I want to thank you as well, all of you who take time to read my thoughts here on the blog. It’s encouraging to know that people care and what to know what I’ve been learning. You guys are the best!