Stories of Stewardship and Gratitude: Are Gratitude and Generosity Learned Behaviors?

Updated: Oct 9, 2019

By Martha Seagram


Is gratitude a learned behavior? Is generosity a learned behavior? The Stewardship committee has planned the Annual Giving Campaign for this fall, and during that time I’ve pondered these questions in depth.

Our theme this year is: A Journey from Gratitude to Generosity. What responsibility do we have to teach our children about gratitude and generosity? Is that one more thing that I could/should have done a better job of as a parent?! Having adult children can be a sinking feeling as you realize your influence diminishes on a daily basis.

I definitely realize that my parents were great role models. They had very, very little monetary wealth by our midwest suburban standards, but they were radically generous! Our standard suburban hostess gift of a bottle of wine that requires no effort pales in comparison to the homemade butter tarts (it’s a Canadian thing!) or a six-quart basket of peas or a couple bunches of asparagus that we picked that morning. Yes, I grew up on a farm, and we ate what we grew. Organic living, minimally processed foods, lots of fruit and vegetables–-my parents knew about that long ago!


They gave of their time and talent in the community and at church. We lived in a very small farming community where everyone not only knew their neighbors but helped their neighbors. At harvest time an extra 10 to 12 people would show up and help Dad, and then Mom would feed them all.


We were a community of encouragement! My dad shared farm equipment with others as he knew it made no sense for everyone to have to purchase everything--in addition to the fact that he couldn’t afford it. I’m not very good at that, but I do borrow a bundt cake pan when I need one!


My mom was a church organist for 50 years--twenty- five years in each of two different churches. If there was an event of any kind at church, we were there helping. We were definitely taught more by example than words what was important in their lives. I knew that my dad knelt by his bed every night to pray. He didn’t talk about it; we just knew.


I am a blessed child of God. I am filled with gratitude for the generosity of spirit in which I was raised. My parents thanked God all the time for their blessings--and I thank God that I know whose daughter I am.

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