Good Manners: An Expression of Gratitude

Feeling the pressure to rush through Thanksgiving on the march to All Things Christmas? You’re not alone. But as culture cares less and less about respect and gratitude, we must be even more intentional about practicing inward thankfulness and outward kindness.

Why not challenge your family to take thoughtful steps this November. To extend a one-day feast into a month-long practice of thanksgiving. Not sure where to start? Think about the important but often-overlooked part that manners play in giving thanks.

Manners matter

When we focus our hearts on gratitude, we recognize our absolute dependence on the Lord; we praise Him for how He works in our lives and in our world. When we carry ourselves respectably and engage those around us with courtesy, we are intentionally thanking the One who lovingly created and has a plan for each of us.

Don’t worry: Having good manners doesn’t mean you need an advanced degree in etiquette. Above all, it means following the Golden Rule and the Great Commandment: “Treat others in the same way that you would want them to treat you” (Luke 6:31, NET), and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39, NET).

Love is patient and kind; it’s not selfish or rude. It’s based on true care for others and a desire to recognize and do something about their concerns. (See 1 Corinthians 13:4-5, Romans 12:10, and Philippians 2:4.)

Manners in everyday life

Having good manners – an outward expression of love – is not about following a certain set of etiquette rules. But neither is it about disregarding common standards of behavior altogether. Instead, it’s about considering other people. We affirm their value when we practice humility and gratitude through concrete actions.

For example, if grandparents expect us to keep napkins in laps and elbows off the table, we do so (without rolling our eyes!). If a neighbor asks visitors to remove shoes before coming inside, we follow those wishes. If friends like to be formally addressed as “Mr. and Mrs.,” we make sure our kids are aware of and honor that preference.

Something might not be the norm for our family. Still, when we visibly dignify someone in ways they relate to, we reveal thankfulness for their uniqueness and for the gift of living alongside them in harmony.

Manners: Where love and gratitude meet

Love is humble, and it’s marked by an attitude of gratitude in every situation (see Ephesians 5:20 and Colossians 3:15). Good manners are an outward sign of thankfulness to the Lord and respect for His creation. 

Need help putting the idea into practice? Check out suggestions in our online articles “Thanksgiving Gratitude” and “Cultivate Gratitude at Thanksgiving.” We also recommend Jill Rigby’s book Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World and Focus on the Family’s broadcast with Donna Jones, “Teaching Good Manners to Your Kids.”