An Attitude of Gratitude

Ever think about how blessed we are to be professors?

For the most part, we have great jobs that are esteemed, that compensate us reasonably well, that pay us to think, to write, to serve. Many of us get reimbursed for travel, even for international trips. We generally work in clean, attractive environments, protected from extreme heat, cold, and dirt. We get paid to learn about something of interest to us. We have been gifted by God with intelligence, with artistic skills, with creativity, and sometimes with wit. Being a professor has some great perquisites.

Ever think about how many people envy us? So many men and women around the world would sacrifice greatly to be able to earn a PhD from a western university. For those of us with tenure or tenure-track jobs, we’ve got, it seems at times, the world by the tail. Even if we can only secure an adjunct teaching job, we have much for which to be thankful.


Most of us were taught as children to say “Thank you”. The older people in our lives likely repeatedly modeled gratitude and how to express it. Though this sense of privilege is felt to a different extent by each of us, most have an underlying sense of gratitude. We know, down deep inside, that we ought to express gratitude. But how do we express gratitude toward the God who created us—the God who gave us our giftedness as faculty, as teachers, as researchers? Fortunately Scripture gives insight to help answer that question.

Expressing Gratitude to God

In the middle chapters of the Gospel of John, Jesus makes a profound statement, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” What could he mean by that? At several times in his life, Jesus clarified that the “greatest commandment”, the one which encompasses all the others, is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37-38)

We love the Lord both by loving Him with all our being and by loving our neighbor. Our love is both vertical and horizontal. We love Him by listening to Him and doing what He says. We also love Him by sharing with others our own belief and faith in Him. We love Him by making disciples (Matt. 28:19-20)–other men and women who are learning to love Him and others more and more. We also love Him by our commitment to our particular calling, even expressed in the affectionate pursuit of our chosen fields of study.

If we truly love God, we’ll have this attitude of gratitude.

Are we expressing our gratitude often and appropriately?

Are we trying to better understand what God has given us, and how we can use what He has given in ways that honor Him?

Are we truly grateful?

The Apostle Paul encouraged us to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us (1 Thessalonians 4:18).”

Many have found a “gratitude list” to be a powerful reminder “to live fully right where we are.” (See suggestion below.)

— Sam Matteson, UNT