Changing Our Focus

(Originally written November, 1998)

My heart skipped a beat as the third of eight fire engines came down the street to our new warehouse. We were not even totally moved in, but smoke bellowed from the roof above our receiving dock. Just minutes before, I had been involved in a meeting in our conference room, hosting a group of CEOs, when my assistant entered and reported that 911 had been dialed. I exited the meeting and hurried down the block, visualizing a roof in flames, sprinklers discharging thousands of gallons of water, and million of dollars of merchandise ruined. I actually imagined calling customers to explain our situation. Fortunately, I was relieved to be told that smoke had engulfed the new heaters as the gas had been turned on, but there was not a fire. The fire fighters and our managers had surveyed the roof and were thankful to realize that it had been a false alarm.

As I drove home that night, I was shocked that I had not even expressed my appreciation to God. This was strange considering that I had spent several weeks studying the phenomenon of the ungrateful attitude of the average American. I had found that although we live in a country of wealth, freedom, health, and opportunity, we crave even more. We are full of greed, envy, self-interest, and a lack of contentment. We accumulate mounting consumer debts, even in the best of times. There is a frenzied grab for happiness. Our uncontrollable addictions in every area are all-consuming and never satisfied. Our pampered generation has tasted God’s blessings and yet is not satisfied. Our ingratitude and forgetfulness has darkened our foolish hearts and clouded our futile thoughts. It is not having little or having much that will cure us. The key to the cure is even if we have “little,” that we appreciate it “much.” All of our physical, financial, social, and spiritual riches are undeserved. Every good gift comes from God, and He wants to give us infinitely more than we deserve. All of our work can add nothing to His blessings of friends, family, a beautiful afternoon, a walk on a mountain trail, a trip down a gentle stream, a quiet fireside chat, or the healing of a loved one.

During this holiday season will you be eaten up with resentment, competitiveness, unmet needs, and restlessness? Or will your heart be filled with appreciation, praise, acknowledgement, and thankfulness to other people and to God? Helen Steiner Rice tells us that words of thanks create a smile, boost morale, and often prompt a hug. That’s not bad. Do you have that thankful spirit? Thankfulness starts with a focus on the giver, not the gift; it is an attitude before it is an action and is modeled before it is taught. So each of us needs to start where we are in our homes, communities, and work places. As we model an attitude of contentment and appreciation, we are able to encourage and serve as an example to those around us. So, whether trials come, or the sunshine of undeserved blessings come, let us exhibit an “attitude of gratitude.”

 Remembering to be thankful,

Kent Humphreys



About kenthumphreys
Kent Humphreys has been a business leader for over forty years. He also served as CEO of FCCI/Christ@Work for six years and now serves as their worldwide ambassador, speaking, writing, and mentoring young leaders. He continues to be active in distribution, private equities, and real estate. Kent and his wife Davidene have written six books together. They have three children and eight grand-children.

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