How To: Love The Ungrateful
I love my kids. Really, I do. I thank God for choosing me to be their mom. However, there are some days, like grocery shopping day, when they make me question whether or not God paired them up with the right mom. Grocery shopping days are not my favorite days because it takes up most of my day. We are a family of six, and it involves going to several different stores to get all of the necessary items needed and wanted. As the kids start filing in from school, they take a look in the pantry, the freezer, and the refrigerator to evaluate my shopping. Their remarks are always more critical than appreciative. I didn’t get the right type of cereal. They don’t like the Gatorade flavors. I purchased the wrong brand of chicken nuggets. What happened to just being grateful for food in the house?
Likewise, many of us have experienced the same type of ungratefulness in the context of ministry. We give of ourselves day after day, only to be taken for granted. The use of our talents and gifts go unnoticed. Our extra time and energy spent on a project is met with criticism. It can be frustrating. We may want to quit working in a ministry, or we want to resign from our leadership position, however we cannot let the enemy distract us from our calling or purpose. We have been called to this life of ministry, and God has already equipped us with what need to minister to those that require a little more effort to love.
First, we have to remember that we are called to serve God, not people. We can get caught up in the doing and forget to focus on why we are doing it. Are we serving to get approval from people, or are we serving for approval from God? We can serve until Jesus returns and not get one “thank you” or “I appreciate you,” and that’s okay. Colossians 3:23-24 says to “Work at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.”
Second, we have to check our own ungrateful attitudes. (Ouch!) Unfortunately, our pride can cause us to get upset or disappointed with others when we are not treated the way WE think we should be treated for the work that we have done. We cannot become bitter or angry when we don’t receive the love and appreciation that we may feel we deserve. Instead, we can model the behaviors and attitude that we would like to receive from others. Go out of your way to catch someone doing good, and let them know how much you appreciate their service to the Kingdom. Appreciating others leads to more appreciation!
Lastly, if we never receive the thanks we deserve, we must continue to love anyway. God calls us to be like him. If we claim to be a child of God, then we must act like his child as referenced in Luke 6:35 “Love your enemies. Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.”
Keep serving God. Keep modeling thankfulness. Keep loving anyway. Our greatest reward will be hearing our Father say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”