I’m Thankful for J.

Sam Rainer

November 25, 2008

USA Today recently reported on research that correlates a thankful spirit with happiness. It states that people who practice outward gratitude on a regular basis tend to be healthier people:

Practicing gratitude in systematic ways changes people by changing brains that are wired for negativity, for noticing gaps and omissions…When you express a feeling, you amplify it. When you express anger, you get angrier; when you express gratitude, you become more grateful.

Makes sense. The problem is that it’s easier to focus on the negative than the positive. And negativity is highly contagious. It takes effort to remain in a thankful spirit, and one can easily slip into a complaining mindset. As a pastor, I have, at times, given too much credence to negativity while letting the overwhelming positive support of the church fade into the background.

Personally, I am truly thankful to shepherd a church with a missional mindset. I am even more thankful for wife who supports and encourages me like no other. And I am most thankful for a Savior through whom all good things come.

In this blog, however, I want to thank a friend. I’ll just call him J.

J. is a “pre-pastor” friend. I’ve known him since I worked in the commodity trading industry, before I was a full-time vocational pastor. He’s seen me at my best and my worst. And J. has supported me with his encouragement through it all.

As I’ve moved, J. and I have made the effort to stay in touch on a regular basis. He has been a consistent friend no matter where I live or what I’m doing. And God has used the current distance between us (almost 1,000 miles) to reveal to me the importance of a friend like J.

  • J. helps to give me clarity of purpose when I can be bogged in the mire of minutiae.
  • I can talk to J. about things I cannot discuss with church members or staff.
  • J. keeps me honest.
  • J. cares about how my book is selling, how my church is growing, and the direction of my ministry, but not as much as he cares about me.
  • Talking or writing to J. helps me realize what’s important and what’s not.

Every pastor (indeed, everyone) needs a friend like J. Friends like J. are rare. Research may show a correlation between an attitude of thankfulness and contentment. But I think a greater contributor to contentment is the impact of people. So today I thank God for J.

One comment on “I’m Thankful for J.”

  1. kdb1411 says:

    On the subject of gratitude, I recently spoke to your Dad. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a father so grateful for his children as he is for you and your two brothers. You, Art, and Jess must be some kind of sons to have a Dad so full of love and thanksgiving.

    Yes, we all have so much to be thankful for.

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