Thanksgiving Can Save Your Life — and Four Other World-Changing Takeaways

Give Thanks

To the Apostle Peter, troubled times are like a refining fire that removes impurity, purifies, and makes gold beautiful. In this season of Thanksgiving, I am mindful of coming alongside our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. But I am also focusing on five life-giving, world-changing activities in my own community:

1. Contentment

“I have learned to be content,” the Apostle Paul said (Phil. 4:12). Contentment is a life-saving virtue. Since 1948, researchers have studied the heart health of the residents of Framingham, Mass., and found that contentment is crucial to physical well-being. Researchers found that every contented person you know increases your likelihood of being contented by 2 percent. For every discontented person you know, your likelihood of being discontented rises 4 percent. 1

Takeaway: Be content. It could save your life and inspire those around you.

2. Community

Recent studies have shown the power of “authoritative communities” in people’s lives, helping children and adults live mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthy lives. Good churches play this role, giving all generations a sense of place, nurturing them, helping them grow spiritually, and teaching them to treat those inside and outside the community with dignity and love. 2

Takeaway: Be involved — and be generous with hugs and smiles and encouragement.

3. Connection

Monica Ardelt reports that activities that increase a person’s sense of well-being can extend the lives of older persons by, on average, five years. In particular, Ardelt found that meaningful involvement in church is especially important. 3 Those kids in Sunday school aren’t killing you; they’re actually keeping you alive! And the connection continues in our homes. As has been said, the front door of the home is the side door of the church.

Takeaway: Keep opening your home — and opening your heart as well.

4. Coaching

By coaching, I mean positive, purposeful interaction with the rising generation. Positive connection between generations reinvigorates the older generation and provides the younger generation with motivation, engagement, pro-social behavior, a healthier lifestyle, and spiritual development. 4 In one study, the number one factor explaining the continued church involvement of young people in their 20s was whether or not they had a mentor in high school. 5

Takeaway: Recommit to sharing your life experience with young people.

5. Character

Author Steven Garber says, “For individuals to flourish, they need to be part of a community of character, one which has a reason for being that can provide meaning and coherence between the personal and the public worlds.” 6 Take the “Inklings” club as an inspiring example. A group of authors in the 1940s and ‘50s, the Inklings, gathered in Oxford twice a week for friendship, writing advice, and spiritual support. Among those in the group were C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, and out of these meetings came Lewis’ Narnia series and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Takeaway: Invest time in people of character with whom you can change the world.

We live in a world of trouble, but the way we personally live out a biblical worldview changes everything. Please pray for Summit as we purposefully invest in our precious young adults, so full of potential, and have a blessed season of Thanksgiving.


  1. For more information on the “Framingham Study” see http://www.framinghamheartstudy. org/
  2. See Kathleen A. Kovner Kline, Hardwired to Connect: The New Scientific Case for Authoritative Communities (New York: Broadway Publications, 2003), p. 8.
  3. See Monika Ardelt, “Effects of Religion and Purpose in Life on Elders’ Subjective Well Being,” Journal of Religious Gerontology, Vol. 14, No. 4, 2003.
  4. Keith A. King, Rebecca A. Vidourek, Beth Davis, and Warren McClellan, “Increasing Self-Esteem and School Connectedness Through a Multidimensional Mentoring Program,” Journal of School Health, Vol. 72, No. 7, 2002, pp. 294-299; Rachel C. Vreeman and Aaron E. Carroll, “A Systematic Review of School-Based Interventions to Prevent Bullying,” Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, Vol. 161, 2007, p, 86.
  5. This is one of many conclusions reached by Jason Lanker, The Relationship Between Mid-Adolescent Natural Mentoring and the Christian Spiritual-
ity of North American First-Year Christian College Students. May 2009, Unpublished. Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. pp. 141, 147.
  6. Steven Garber, The Fabric of Faithfulness (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2007), p. 159.