Gratitude. We see it mostly around Thanksgiving time and on inspirational wall decor. It brings tears to the eyes of one who receives an undeserved gift, and it bleeds through the words of a simple thank-you note.
Gratitude is evidence of a Gospel-centered mindset. It communicates humility and indebtedness. It seems simple in concept. Scripture even commands it. So why don’t we see it more in daily life? Why is it lacking on a Christian college campus?
As college students, our lives are fast-paced. We experience many highs and lows, stress is constant, and responsibilities stretch us in a million directions. In the midst of this, it’s easy to forget how good our God is. Just like the Israelites, we sometimes find it’s easier to complain about the weather, our leadership and even our food than to remember the blessings God gives.
The vision for our campus
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything, give thanks.” Everything means everything! This lesson meets us right where we live. No matter where we are, no matter the stage of life, no matter the situation, no matter the difficulty, our faith in a sovereign and loving God prompts us to give thanks.
That’s why this year’s Student Leadership Council has chosen the theme of gratitude to be our driving force this year.
If gratitude gripped our hearts, I believe that deadlines wouldn’t be so dreadful, roommates wouldn’t be so hard to love, guidelines wouldn’t be such a nuisance, and we would enjoy each day to the fullest instead of counting down to graduation. Complaining would evaporate, and our joy would run rampant on our campus.
How you can get involved
So how do we as student leaders hope to accomplish this goal in our student body? The answer is we can’t. Gratitude is personal and starts in each student’s heart. We know that God is the only one who can do that kind of work. However, it’s our desire to partner with Him and be the hands and feet of that work.
Pray consistently. All good things come through fervent, unceasing prayer for God to accomplish His purposes in our student body. Ask God to grow in you a heart of gratitude rooted in the Gospel.
Be the change you want to see. Be an example of gratitude to your peers. Leaders reproduce who they are, not what they say.
Focus your heart. Change isn’t a one-time decision. It’s constantly deciding to focus your heart. This year, student body chapels and nights of prayer and worship will focus on our gratitude theme. Take advantage of these events to help guide your heart.
Focusing your heart could also be as simple as writing a thank-you card each week, doing a word study on gratitude, or keeping a journal of the gifts God gives you.
Give back. A grateful heart is a heart that gives back. That’s why the logo for our gratitude theme is an open hand and heart. Not only does gratitude lead us to give praise to God, it also leads us to give back to our communities.
For this reason, the Student Leadership Council is partnering with the Community Service Council and other student organizations to plan community outreaches throughout the year. We’re also organizing several appreciation days to recognize the many people who serve and sacrifice for us on this campus.
Starting an epidemic
We hope that the simple message of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 will challenge and inspire individual hearts. We pray that this emphasis on gratitude will also breed contentment, humility, respect and surrender. We envision a campus with a Christ-like, Kingdom culture—one that is filled with joy, peace and love.
All of that can be fostered by gratitude in the hearts of students. We want visitors and the Greenville community to see the difference Christ makes through the simple message of gratitude. If students catch this contagious gratitude, we could start an epidemic.