Having an attitude of gratitude shapes your relationships and your outlook on life, Pastor Rick Warren says.
Warren, who serves as senior pastor of the 20,000-member Saddleback Church in Orange County, California, wrote in his devotional on Friday, "The More Grateful You Are the Happier You Are," that Christians should follow the teaching of Paul in Philippians 1:3, when he says: "Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God," (NLT, second edition).
"This simple truth is the foundation of good relationships."
The megachurch pastor explains that while it is frequently tempting to view relationships selfishly by asking what someone can do for you, the most important thing you can do in a relationship is be grateful for the other person.
"If you want to have healthy relationships, then start with an attitude of gratitude. You will be far happier and enjoy your relationships more if you will develop the habit of being grateful for the people in your life," Warren explains.
Following Paul's teaching on gratitude is essential if we want to have life-long, lasting relationships, the pastor says.
This can be especially difficult for your long-term relationships, Warren continues.
"The longer you know someone, the more likely you are to take that person for granted. Isn't that true? The longer you know someone, the easier it is to focus on that person's faults and the bad times instead of the happy times," the pastor writes.
"That's why it takes effort on our part to choose to have an attitude of gratitude for the people in our lives. When we develop the habit of thanking God for people in our lives, it will cultivate happiness and have a lasting and eternal impact on those relationships," Warren concludes.
Charles Stanley, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and founder and president of In Touch Ministries, previously said that gratitude can serve a multitude of benefits in our life and faith, including refocusing our attention, relieving anxiety, refreshing our relationship and reinforcing our faith.
"Although gratitude is always beneficial, it's not always easy. When you're discouraged or overwhelmed, it's probably not on your radar to thank God. But I've learned from experience that shifting focus and thanking the Lord for all He's done is the fastest way to change one's attitude and reenergize," the religious leader wrote.
Although maintaining a grateful attitude toward God can be difficult, it is an important aspect of keeping a healthy faith, Stanley says, pointing to Philippians 4:6-7, (NIV) which reads: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."