I Am Grateful
- Author: Jerry Hoffman, Former Director of the Center for Stewardship Leaders, Luther Seminary
- Updated: 11/01/2010
- Copyright: Jerry Hoffman
Whenever someone asks you, "How Are You" respond by saying "I am grateful!"
I Am Grateful
A number of years ago, although I was serving a good supportive congregation, I was not contended. Instead I was disappointed that I had not been chosen for a new position. During that period I began to earnestly live with Paul's letter to the Philippians. Paul is in prison. His future was dim. And yet among other important faith professions in that letter, he wrote "I have learned to be content with whatever I have" and "Rejoice in the Lord always!"
I prayed for Paul's outlook. I wondered about how I could daily possess that perspective. I became aware that when someone asked my how I was, my standard remark was "I am good. "
Here is a simple change that I could make that would help me remember Paul's perspective. From then on I endeavor that when someone asks me
"How are you?" I will respond by saying "I am grateful."
I need to add, that it is not that I am always grateful. It is more a prayer, "God help me in all circumstances to be be grateful." It is a public confession in a simple way to remember that in my baptism, I am called to be steward of the mysteries of God. It is God who has entrusted everything I have and am. I am not entitled to the life, wife, family, church, time, talent, money and opportunities which God has entrusted for me to steward.
Sometimes this response is sorely tested. When our 39 year old son-in-law had a complete blockage of his right carotid artery causing a major stroke, it challenged that perspective. Eventually, in the midst of fear, grief and anxiety, I was able to mumble "I am grateful that God has provided medical resources to save his life and the support of family, friends and an attentive pastor who prayed prayers we were not able to utter."
In 2006, I told this story to a congregation which I was consulting. I particularly recall looking at Agnes. Her face was filled with as much discontent and disgust as anyone I have ever met. But when I returned to the congregation five weeks later, Agnes came to me. I hardly recognizer her for she had a smile on her face.
She told me her story, "I work as a dispatcher in our local police department. I get yelled at a lot. But, I decided to accept your challenge. Ever since that time, whenever someone in the department asks me, 'Agnes, how are you?' I give them a smile and tell them, "I am grateful!" They are surprised and look at me. Some say, "What in H_ _ _ has got into you?"
When you are out and about and someone asks you, I challenge you to respond, "I am grateful!" You will be surprised at some of the responses you will get. Not only that, but it will help you remember you have the privilege and a responsibility to be a steward of all God has entrusted to you.
Now tell me, how are you? And just how are you going to respond when someone says, for what?
Grace & Peace,
Director of the Center for Stewardship Leaders