“So, what do you want for Christmas?” It’s a question my family has already started to ask, and it throws me off every year.
I’d really just like to have everyone come to my house for dinner. Then I could make a zillion different kinds of cookies and whip up all my other holiday recipes that seem too extravagant to pull out for just my husband and me on the average day. But that experience doesn’t wrap up neatly under the tree.
So, for the sake of my family members’ sanity, I usually Google the latest kitchen gadgets and add them to my list. One year, I received a rolling pin. It has small removable discs on each end that adjust the thickness of the rolled-out dough—how cool is that?
I don’t know what kind of presents you usually ask for at Christmas, but have you ever thought about the kind of gift that God wants? You might not have a box under the tree with God’s name on it. Yet whether we realize it or not, we offer Him gifts every day.
Working in children’s ministry, you do things like stock preschool rooms with crayons, sanitize nursery toys, prepare Sunday school lessons, and more—all of these activities are gifts to God. You do it because you want to honor Him. And that’s not a bad thing.
The Gift of Giving Thanks
But check out what God says in Psalm 50:8–10, 23a (NLT):
I have no complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly offer. But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens. For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. . . . giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.
God is pleased with all that you do to give to and serve the kiddos in your ministry—it’s a sweet offering to Him. But what He wants above all else is your thanksgiving. He doesn’t need more boxes under the tree: He wants your heart.
The other week, I was stocking our children’s church room with snacks for the upcoming Sunday service, and I saw a little note scrawled on the whiteboard: “God, if you’re listening, I want you to take care of all the kids that need a home, please.”
My heart swelled at such a precious peek into the heart of one of our kids. And it overflowed into gratitude for this little one’s sensitivity to the needs of those around him, gratitude for the children’s church leader the previous week who had guided the kids in prayer, and gratitude that God was breaking hearts for what breaks His. My list of reasons for being grateful could go on and on.
What would it look like if we walked into 2018 practicing gratitude with intentionality? What would it look like if, with our fellow children’s ministry leaders, we took to time each week to celebrate even the smallest of victories? What would it look like we chose to set our sights on God’s goodness rather than our shortcomings?
I don’t know for sure, but I’m confident that any step in the direction of practicing gratefulness is a step that honors God.