I would completely understand if you are feeling low heading into the holidays. You might even be struggling to prepare sermons of thanksgiving. It’s been a hard year for everyone and as a ministry leader I know you’ve carried more than your fair share. 

As I reflect on what I am thankful for this year, you are at the top of the list. I can’t help but think of the many stories I’ve heard of your faith and how you have worked hard on behalf of the gospel this year. I’m thankful for YOU. 

5 Ways You Made a Difference This Year

First let me say that you’ve done far more than 5 things that have made a difference this year. As a Barnabas, I want to share the great encouragement I take in you and in the fruit borne by your ministries: When he [Barnabas] arrived [in Antioch] and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. (Acts 11:23). May these 5 things jumpstart an encouraging work of thanksgiving in you and humbly list the many more ways God has worked in you and through you this year. And praise God through whom all blessing flow!

1. You stood firm

The Church has been messier then ever and many have walked away. Not you. You have stood firm on mission. In spite of external obstacles and the battle of internal motivations you have kept going. 

2. You didn’t stay down

You’ve taken hits. Whether it was scorn, personal attacks, indifference, or passive aggression I know it hurt. But you got up every time you were knocked down. You may be bruised but you are still in the fight.

3. You encouraged others

Those who are left in the church are wounded. People they considered friends have left the church without warning or maybe even moved away. You saw them this year and bandaged their hearts with truth. Not only that but you initiated—and insisted upon—calling them to a higher purpose. By investing in others, even without any clear benefit to yourself or your own ends, you are continuing to pass the torch.  

4. You were a light in darkness

You have kept the fire going. In word and deed you continue to bring the light to others, fanning the flame of inspiration even in the face of apparent lack of engagement by others. You have been a watchtower, drawing eyes away from darkness giving hope to hearts and minds.

5. You preferred God’s way

There’s a reason people tend to lean on their own understanding—we like to be in control. You, however, have leaned on the Holy Spirit  as you have led your ministries through an unprecedented period of transitions. You have been willing to let go of what was no longer working and leave it behind, managing the ambiguity as you begin to see new things emerge. 

An Undivided Heart

If this thanksgiving post ministered to you in any way, I urge you to pick up a copy of An Undivided Heart. You will find it inspiring and encouraging as you pursue living out your faith. It also makes a great gift!

Photo by Brad West on Unsplash