george hancock stefanA lifestyle of thanksgiving is not only for the Thanksgiving holiday. The Bible tells us that we are to give thanks always, for this is the will of God for us. On a recent flight that lasted more than 10 hours, I observed the reactions of our stewardess to the people who were polite and thankful and to those people who expected her to immediately give them what they demanded. The people who were kind received better and more cheerful service than the ones who were rude.

Many years ago, local ministers heard a presentation from Sister Arline Zurich, who was a staff member at St. Agnes. She told us about her preparation in the morning to be a servant of the Lord and her evening reflection or prayer of purification. A brother commented that she can do that because she has no family, but I left that meeting thinking that those of us who do have families need to develop a lifestyle of thanksgiving even more.

My early morning thanksgiving starts with praise and thanks to God because I am awake again. The whole concept of relaxation, sleep, rest, and rejuvenation is a blessing from the Lord. I praise God that I am rested and that I have jobs both as a pastor and as a professor that I thoroughly enjoy. I look forward to the tasks that I have to do during the day.

Secondly, I am thankful to my wife who has made a home life without worries. My wife has more than lived up to that Genesis interpretation of a helpmeet. She runs our home so that I have no worry when I leave or when I am away for a long time. I know that verse from the Proverbs well that says he who finds a good wife has been blessed by the Lord and for that I am thankful.

I am thankful for my children who have never been embarrassed by me in public or by what I am doing. I remember Pearl Buck, who received the Nobel Prize in Literature, was embarrassed (some people would say ashamed) by the fact that her parents were missionaries.  Our homes are God’s workshops and if our homes are not places where our children can see our relationship with God, then something must be corrected. It does not mean that my children and I never had bumps, disagreements, and hurts, but we are always thankful for our family and how we handle the joys and difficulties of life together.

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I am thankful for the church where I am serving. I am in my third decade here and I am enjoying it just as much as when I started. I enjoy the Bible studies, I enjoy the counseling where I can help the people, I enjoy praying for the sick in the hope that God will heal and restore to health, and I enjoy the worship services where God’s word is being preached and people bring their God-given gifts to worship. I enjoy the special services of dedications, baptisms, weddings, and even funerals because they test and reinvigorate our faith in everlasting life. I enjoy the community work and the denominational work too.

I am thankful for my seminary colleagues and seminary students. I have the opportunity to work with some of God’s most gifted and dedicated people.  Some of them come from engineering degrees, medical degrees, musical degrees, linguistic degrees, but they all felt the call of God to become seminary teachers. Some of them have taken deep cuts in their salaries and some of them could be teaching at secular universities for bigger salaries.  Yet, they are in the seminary because they feel that this is the place where we shape future leaders for the Kingdom of God.  Personally, when it comes to the future of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, I am one of the most optimistic people. I often have the chance to hear how God has called seminarians to the Gospel ministry and how enthusiastic they are for what God will do in their lives, in their families, and in the churches or other places where the Lord will call them to serve.

At every seminary graduation we sing, “Here am I Lord, send me.” I am thankful to the Lord for His calling upon my life and for the privilege to serve Him as we serve His beloved people.

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George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...