Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Gratitude and Love

Written by: on November 3, 2023

“How many of you think that you are God’s favorite?” What I thought was an easy, playful opening to my sermon was more revealing than I could’ve imagined. I used the example of how parents and grandparents tell their children that they are their “favorite” as a playful way to express delight in their special status as beloved. Only a few hands were raised. Noticing that I stumbled into deeper waters than I anticipated at this point in my sermon, I asked, “How many of you struggle to know that God loves you so much that you could be regarded as a favorite?” Many, many hands were raised. My opening ice-breaker became a heart-breaking reminder of the background music playing in the lives of many people – am I really loved? It made me wonder, how do we know we are loved? To know we are loved we have to become attuned to the divine music in our lives. How do we become attuned to this music?

Music and Leadership 

This was one of the many thoughts that came to mind as tuned in to the leadership opus by Jules Glazer, The Sound of Leadership: Kingdom Notes to Fine Tune Your Life and Influence. This is a leadership primer and guide that is accessible and applicable springing forth from a practitioner that is seasoned in leading and reflection. Glazer beautifully reveals the harmony of music, leadership and theology into a masterful work that calls readers to realign with the divine frequency all around us. Glazer even begins his work with a comparison to the basics of musical theory to the fundamentals of leadership: listen, see, learn, do and love.[1] He applies these principles to the music and leadership characteristics in the various dynamics such as the voices of leadership, the identity of the leader, and the effects of leadership. I found that I resonated with much of this work, even though I am not particularly versed in music. 

Criticism and Gratitude

As I read the book, the question of “how do we know we are loved” came to mind in the section on gratitude and generosity. He writes, “In my observation, most Americans choose not to be grateful…it is hard to be thankful…When we are critical, judgmental, and negative about situations around us, it is hard to be thankful.”[2] It made me consider that the tendency to criticize is often being out of tune to the music around you. It is an orchestra player that over plays to make their contribution heard instead of adding to whole. Gratitude may even be expressed in choosing not to be critical in situations when you have discovered something to critique but its not necessary or helpful. Glazer goes on to say, “Practicing gratitude is not a sign of weakness but strength when integrity, humility, and courage are the character qualities demonstrated by the gracious person.”[3]

Gratitude and Love

Gratitude is the action that uncovers the music of love. We can hear the sounds of love when we express gratitude. Love and gratitude are vulnerability, whereas criticizing is protection and being closed off. Gratitude is recognizing that you have received a gift that someone else wanted to give as an expression of love. Perhaps the leper heard the music of love when he came back to Jesus in gratitude for the healing, while the other nine that were healed missed the true blessing.[4] Gratitude brings us in tune with the soundtrack of love playing all around us. When we are grateful, we are putting love into action and that action makes love real for us. That’s what I wonder for a congregation and anyone that struggles to know if they are loved. Gratitude just might be the very thing that reveals the truth all around you – you are God’s favorite because there is no one like you.[5]

‌1. Jules Glanzer, The Sound of Leadership: Kingdom Notes to Fine Tune Your Life and Influence (Plano, Texas: Invite Press, 2023), p. 2. 

2. Ibid., 60. 

3. Ibid., 63. 

4. Luke 17:11-19. 

5. Glazer, 46. 

About the Author


Chad McSwain

Chad is a systematic creative serving in pastoral ministry for nearly 20 years, Chad is a professional question-asker and white-board enthusiast, who enjoys helping people discover their own passions and purpose. A life-long learner, he has a B.A, Philosophy - Univ. Central Oklahoma, M.A Theology - Fuller Seminary, M.Div. Perkins School of Theology at SMU and is pursuing a Doctor of Leadership - George Fox University. He is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church, currently serving as Lead Pastor of Whitesboro UMC. Chad and his wife, Brandi live in Prosper, Texas along with their three children, two pugs and a chameleon.

4 responses to “Gratitude and Love”

  1. Michael O'Neill says:

    Awesome post, Chad. My parents have a magnet on their fridge that reads, “Jesus loves you, but I’m his favorite!” I loved your ice-breaker to your congregation and I bet that did set the tone for your message. I appreciate you reminding all of us that so many people we lead do not have the same feeling of love or of God’s love. They are somehow out of tune in a way or just do not understand how great God is. I thnk you nailed it with the opening line of your last paragraph, “Gratitude is the action that uncovers the music of love.” This is so true and wise. This is the tuning process. Gratitude realigns us with love and connects us with God. Thanks, again for these wise words.

  2. mm Audrey Robinson says:

    Chad, your insights were so helpful in bringing Glanzer’s work to life.

    My heart breaks when I realize how much people are missing out when they do not realize how much they are loved by God. After reading the book, what might you do differently with your congregation to help them become more aware that they are loved and one of God’s favorites?

  3. mm Daron George says:


    In the midst of our busy and often critical lives, how can we foster a practice of gratitude that not only affirms our own belovedness by God but also resonates that divine love to those we lead and serve?

    Thanks 🙂

  4. Alana Hayes says:

    Great post!

    “it is hard to be thankful”

    Daunting, but worth it! What are ways that you flip the script with your congregation that might not be so grateful at times…..?

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