The United Methodist Bishop in South Dakota once moved me from being a pastor in a local congregation to serving on the cabinet as a District Superintendent. Our grade-school-age son absolutely did not want to move away from his friends in our church to a new community. We convinced him to move with our family, but he was very unhappy. However, when we arrived in the district parsonage, Kendall was shocked to find a beautiful electric train set laid out on a table in the family room with this note: “This is a gift from the Rueben Job family to Kendall. Hope you enjoy your new home.”

Kendall was shocked to find such a wonderful gift from a family he didn’t even know and he played with the electric train all day. The next day, Kendall came into my home office with his hands full of coins and plopped them down on my desk saying, “Dad, give this to God.” I asked him, “why are you giving this money to God.” He said, “Just to say thanks.”

Kendall had received a generous gift from my predecessor as District Superintendent and he was so overwhelmed with gratitude that he wanted to give some of his money to God “just to say thanks.”

The truth is that all of us have received abundant gifts from the hands of our generous God. God has filled us full to overflowing with the gifts of life and love, faith and family, relationships and resources.

God is generous to all of us in many different ways. The only question is whether or not we will respond with an attitude of gratitude and give time, talent and treasure back to God “just to say thanks.”

As the new volunteer Director of Generosity and Gratitude for the Indiana Conference, I encourage United Methodists in Indiana to become aware of God’s generosity to us and to give to God out of gratitude.

We don’t give to support God’s work through our congregations out of guilt or obligation or to meet a church budget. We give to God out of our deep sense of gratitude for all God has first given to us.

I invite us all to “Count our many blessings, name them one by one. Count our many blessings, see what God has done” in our own lives. Then, with hearts filled with gratitude, make our commitment to give some of our time, talent and treasure back to God “just to say thanks.”

In his first letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul reminded Timothy to give this message to his congregation: “They need to hope in God, who richly provides everything for our enjoyment. Tell them to do good, to be rich in the good things they do, to be generous and to share with others” (1 Timothy 6:17b-18, Common English Bible).

Paul reminds Timothy and all of us to remember that God richly provides everything we are and have and we generously share with others out of gratitude for all God has first given us.

We have developed a Generosity and Gratitude Stewardship process for congregations available online at www.inumc.org for pastors and local church leaders, who might like to conduct their annual stewardship drive emphasizing God’s generosity to us and our gratitude to God.

God is generous and gracious to us and we are grateful and give generously back to God “just to say thanks.”

I encourage United Methodists in Indiana to become aware of God’s generosity to us and to give to God out of gratitude.

Kent Millard serves as Indiana Conference Director of Generosity and Gratitude.