Each young woman will learn that there are many ways to show gratitude and will feel the joy that comes through expressing her appreciation to others.
Bring pencils and notepaper for each class member.
Optional: Prepare a bookmark similar to the following example for each member of your class, using heavy paper, felt, or other suitable material.
Prepare a personal note of appreciation for each of the young women. Express your gratitude to each young woman for her contribution to your life. Be specific. These will be handed out at the end of the lesson.
Assign young women to present any scriptures, stories, or quotations you wish.
Suggested Lesson Development
We Should Be Grateful for Our Blessings
Introduce the lesson by reading the following counsel from President Ezra Taft Benson.
“Someone has said that an ungrateful man is like a hog under a tree eating apples and never looking up to see where they come from. How often do we look up to see where our blessings come from?
“The Prophet Joseph Smith is reported to have said that one of the greatest sins for which the Latter-day Saints would be guilty would be ingratitude. I presume most of us have not thought of that as a serious sin. There’s a great tendency for us in our prayers to ask for additional blessings. Sometimes I feel we need to devote more of our prayers to expressions of gratitude and thanksgiving for blessings already received. …
“I traveled the wonderful state of Idaho for eight years for the university. I went to every town and hamlet, and it was not uncommon for me to be away for two weeks. Then I’d go home and, as a stake officer, change clothes and be gone again. Once when this happened, one of my little girls came to the door, waved, and said, ‘Come again, Daddy.’
“I used to miss my family, and one particular Sunday I found myself in Pocatello, Idaho. I got thinking about my family, so far away, and I thought, ‘Well, I’ll just run down to Whitney [where some family members lived] and see if I can attend sacrament service.’ I arrived just as the meeting was about to start. The bishop invited me to sit with him on the stand.
“The meeting started, and the counselor who was conducting called on me to say a few words. I had been sitting there thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could be home every Sunday and go to church with my family? Just think what a joy it would be.’ Well, as he introduced me, he said, ‘Brothers and sisters, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a job like Brother Benson? He’s always on a trip.’ I thought, ‘Yes, how true to life. Distant pastures usually look greener.’
“I hope we can be happy where we are, be grateful for our blessings—now, here—accept the challenge that is ours and make the most of it, and not be envious of others. …
“God help us to be grateful for our blessings and never to be guilty of the sin ingratitude.
“‘And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more’ (D&C 78:19)” (“All This and the Gospel Too,” New Era, Nov. 1991, pp. 4–7).
Explain that many times we don’t take time to realize how many blessings we have and to express appreciation and gratitude for them. Ask the young women to consider what blessings they have to be grateful for. As they suggest blessings, write their ideas on the chalkboard. Leave the list on the chalkboard for the remainder of the class period. Possible ideas could include the following:
Mission of Jesus Christ
Encourage the young women to remember and be grateful for the many little things that are done for them each day by good people—brothers or sisters, parents or others who help them in their homes, helpful teachers, and good friends. Stress that they should be very grateful to be members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which teaches them the purpose of life and provides many great blessings.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 59:21 together as a class.
Why do you think gratitude is so important? How does feeling grateful help you? How are other people affected when you express gratitude to them?
We Can Express the Feelings of a Grateful Heart
Write on the chalkboard “Thank You!” Then ask the following questions:
How do these words make you feel when someone says them to you?
How often do you say these words to other people?
Ask the young women to suggest some specific ways we can express our appreciation to others.
On the remaining side of the chalkboard, list the ideas given by the young women. Their responses might include the following suggestions. If not, add these to the list and share the thoughts or explanations with the young women as desired. (You need list only the italicized part of each suggestion.)
Write a note—Make it short, and if you like, use a little art work. It needn’t be on fancy stationery; why not a square of colored construction paper cut with pinking shears? Without being mushy or insincere, pen a happy line of thanks. … Use the postman for deliveries, then you’re not around when it’s read.
Do a favor—This is a subtle way—good to use with your best friend or your parents. It takes an understanding heart to recognize this as a ‘thank you.’ Rise half an hour early and polish your dad’s shoes. … Or make fudge to give the boy who helped haul scenery for the class play.
A telephone call—Make it on the first impulse, then it’s the most effective. Don’t feel embarrassed, just be sure you let the fella or gal on the other end of the line feel your gratitude. …
A happy look—How nice to show appreciation in your face—a quick and ready smile, shining eyes, a warm look. To many folks this is the best thanks of all—and can be a secret communication between you and the person you’re thanking. It involves no stammering, no self-consciousness.
A gift or treat—And it needn’t be expensive! Tuck a candy bar in your kid brother’s sock drawer for his letting you use his ball point. Dangle some candy kisses from your sis’s tennis racket before putting it back in her closet. Stick four pieces of gum in your chum’s science book—when you return it” (Winnifred C. Jardine, “Thanks a Million,” Improvement Era, Sept. 1960, “Era of Youth” section).
Rock painting—Go rock hunting, and find flat ones, pretty ones, and smooth ones. These are just right to draw a picture on and give thanks to someone for being such a big help.
Explain that there are many ways to say thanks and express gratitude to those who have helped us. The important thing is to do something; the receiver of your thanks will always be grateful.
The following is a story of an elderly woman who received thanks for her years of service as a schoolteacher. Years after her retirement, one of her students wrote her a letter of appreciation. This is her reply to the student:
“‘My dear Willie, I cannot tell you how much your note meant. I am in my eighties, living alone in a small room, cooking my own meals, lonely, and like the last leaf that falls—lingering behind. You will be interested to know that I taught school for fifty years and yours was the first note of appreciation I ever received. It came on a blue, cold morning, and it cheered me as nothing else has for many years.’
“Think of it, a teacher, and a good one, for fifty years, and no one had ever bothered to say a word of encouragement to her. …
“[Appreciation] costs so little and means so much, so say or write a word of appreciation” (Bryant S. Hinckley, … Not By Bread Alone [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1955], p. 93).
Have the young women open their Bibles to Luke 17:11–19. Invite one of the class members to read the story of the ten lepers as the others follow along in their scriptures. Then discuss these verses, using the following questions or others of your own.
How many of the lepers returned to thank the Savior?
What did Jesus ask the one leper who returned to give thanks?
How would you describe the attitude of the nine lepers who failed to express their thanks to Jesus?
Point out that even though there were nine who did not return, Jesus was grateful for the one who did return to give thanks. Jesus’ response to the leper’s expression of gratitude was to teach him the great lesson that his faith had made him whole.
Out of the thoughtful things done for you this week, how many have you expressed appreciation for?
How can you show your gratitude to the Lord, who gave you these blessings?
Call the attention of the young women to the list of blessings placed on the chalkboard at the beginning of the lesson. Ask several young women the following question:
Of all the blessings you suggested for which you are grateful, which one seems to be the most important to you right now? Why?
Give the young women each a pencil and piece of notepaper. Invite them to use the remaining class time to write a short note of appreciation to someone who has been of help to them or has done something nice for them recently. This could be to their parents, a teacher, a friend, a bishop, or someone else. Suggest that they be specific in their thanks. Ask the young women to deliver the notes personally or by mail.
Give the young women the personal notes of thanks that you prepared for them.
Distribute the bookmarks to the young women. As you do, bear testimony that if they will learn to express appreciation now while in their teens they will know the feelings of a grateful heart throughout their lives.
Encourage the young women to more freely express their grateful feelings to those who show kindness or give help to them.