Thanksgiving is my all-time favorite holiday. I love the weather, the food, the gathering of family and friends around the table, even the football. Most of all, I love the intentionality of us as a nation (theoretically, at least) pausing to say, “Thank You” to each other and to God. It’s interesting, and no coincidence, that Thanksgiving is a compound word comprised of “thanks” and “giving.” These are two beautiful words and principles that come together in such a unique and inspiring way that they actually have the power to change lives.
Gratitude and generosity are not widely prevalent in our society, especially in the lives of kids. There is a natural tendency in all of us to get sucked into thinking that life is “all about me” and that anything that is inconvenient or uncomfortable must be bad. The exact opposite is true. Helping children to understand that all that they receive and benefit from in their lives is the result of someone else’s generosity is crucial. It’s easy for us as adults, and how much more for kids, to take things for granted. But Psalm 103:2 reminds us to “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.” As friends and followers of Jesus we are so blessed – with forgiveness, protection, healing, provision – and kids are no exception. Teaching and showing children what it looks and sounds like to take the time to acknowledge and express gratitude to God and the people in our lives is powerful. “Thanks” then becomes a catalyst for “giving.” Gratitude prompts generosity, generosity inspires gratitude, and the cycle becomes intertwined and contagious. The holiday season is a perfect opportunity to involve kids in giving. Giving gifts is of course a great practice to teach kids, but it’s also a time to engage kids in giving of themselves – serving food at a shelter, assembling and distributing care packages to the homeless or military, spending time with the elderly, and the list goes on. Look for opportunities, as parents and those involved in children’s ministry, to let kids give of their money, time, and creativity.
Thankful, giving people stand out…we notice them and want to be like them. This holiday is the perfect opportunity to teach kids about thanks and giving. It’s a great reminder for us, as well. As we model these traits in our own lives, not only will we reap personal reward, we have the opportunity to start a trend and ignite a truth in the hearts and minds of kids that will literally change their lives and the world around us. Happy Thanksgiving!
Consultant for Children’s Ministries
Dr. Ellen (Eby) Moore serves as the Children’s Pastor at The Ark Church, a large growing church in a thriving Houston-suburb, Conroe, Texas. An Oklahoma native with a rich IPHC heritage, Ellen earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership from Oral Roberts University after receiving her undergraduate and masters degrees in Education from Central State University (now the University of Central Oklahoma). After years in public and private education she now enjoys serving kids, parents, and volunteers in her local church by creating environments where kids are connected to Jesus and encouraged and equipped to follow and serve Jesus for the rest of their lives. Ellen is convinced that God has incredible plans for every child’s life right now, not just for when they grow up, and they are changing the world. Ellen has been happily married to her childhood sweetheart, Phillip, for over 25 years, and they’re about to enjoy the “empty nest” as both of their children, Joshua and Meagan, will soon be in college. When she has free time, you’ll usually find her in the kitchen.