You Can Choose – Gratitude or Grumbling

November 2, 2016 | Get free updates of new posts here

One of the conscious decisions I’ve made as a leader is to choose gratitude. I decided many years ago that as often as possible and in as many ways as possible I’m going to choose to be grateful rather than to grumble. I’m going to choose the attitude that sees the opportunity rather than the cynicism that says there is no hope.

As a leader I understand that I can choose – gratitude or grumbling. And I’ve chosen gratitude.


Remember, leaders are only leaders if there are followers. If you look behind you and nobody is following, you’re just out for a nice walk.. which sounds lovely every now and then. But if you’ve got people following you, guess what! They’re choosing their attitude too. And how you model your outlook in difficult circumstances as a leader gets translated to the people who are following you. That’s what happens with leaders.

So are you choosing gratitude or grumbling? Are the people who follow you expressing gratefulness or spewing cynicism?

Every day I pray a pastoral prayer over my life, over my church, over the staff I work with, over the teams we lead and over the ministry we carry out. Part of that prayer is from Colossians 3 and has this simple three word phrase: “And be thankful.”

That’s it.

And be thankful.

God’s word in this moment highlights a choice I get to make. Am I going to choose gratitude or grumbling? Am I going to choose to be thankful or to be cynical? Is gratitude the reality I’m going to express in my leadership and to those around me or am I going to grumble?

Gratitude is much more than just walking around with blinders on and pretending everything is hunky dory and there are no issues in the world. It’s more than an unwillingness to criticize or to work at fixing stuff. So much more. Gratitude is a decision to see the best in people, to believe the best in every situation and to realize that how we carry ourselves impacts the people around us.

Do I always get it right? Oh sweet Jesus, no. Just ask my wife and kids. Ask the people I work with and the people I lead. I do my fair share of grumbling.. but that’s because I’m still making the choice to be grateful and hopefully over time if I want to grumble it’s because I have to choose to grumble. I always want to choose gratitude.

What does gratitude do?

Gratitude shapes my heart

Don’t discount this reality. I’m not talking here about “speak it into existence” kind of faith or positive self-talk I’m simply speaking about the reality that my choice to be grateful impacts how I feel in certain situations.

Sunday morning call time for our team is 6:30. In the morning. Every week. Oh man, that’s early. So I have a choice to make. I can walk through the doors sleepy-eyed and grumbling and focusing on how warm my bed would be right now OR I can choose to be grateful for the opportunity to show up early to prepare myself and our worship team, prepare our sanctuary as the people come, prepare our worship service to serve our church.

Do I have to show up at 6:30 or do I get to show up at 6:30? Get to is all about gratitude.

Gratitude shifts the environment

Leaders.. you do so much more than just recruit people, schedule teams, coach people along and be the face of the thing. Your emotional reality is also part of your leadership and communicates to the people you are working with how they should handle themselves. You know this instinctively about the other leaders you work with but we’re not always as aware about this in our own lives.

Choosing gratitude and expressing it speaks life and value to the people around us and before you know it you’ll starting hearing back from people this same choice to be grateful. And then you’ll realize that your own decisions have helped to shift the environment around you and how people respond in their own situations.

Gratitude shows my commitment

Saying get to instead of have to shows my commitment on so many levels – to the church we get to serve, to the worship teams I get to lead, to the other staff I get to work alongside, to the mission and vision of our church that I get to be a part of, to Jesus himself who I get to worship.

As a leader, hearing get to from people on our teams is one of the clearest signs to me that their heart is in the right place and the kind of character we are looking to develop is present in their lives.


What about you? Is it tough to choose gratitude? Can you think of one opportunity today that you will have the chance to say get to instead of have to?

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