Attitude of Gratitude
If you tend to gravitate toward what is negative in life rather than what is positive, begin praying: “Even though I clutch my blanket and growl when the alarm goes off, thank You Lord that I can hear; there are many who are deaf. Even though I close my eyes as long as possible against the morning light, thank You Lord that I can see; there are many who are blind. Even though I put off the effort to rise, thank You Lord that I have the strength to get up; there are many who are bedridden. Even though the first hour of my day is hectic, when socks are lost, toast is burnt and tempers short, thank You Lord for my family; there are many who are alone.
“Even though our breakfast table never looks like the pictures in the magazine, thank You Lord for the food we have; there are many who are hungry. Even though my job is monotonous, thank You for the opportunity to work, there are many who are unemployed. Even though I complain from time to time and wish my circumstances were different, thank You for the gift of life; there are people in the graveyard who would gladly change places with me. Even though I make mistakes, stumble and fall, thank You for the grace to get up again, there are many who did not make it. Thank You Lord for all these blessings, and 101 others that I have taken for granted – Amen.”
When Mother Teresa was asked what it took to work in the grimy streets of Calcutta, she replied, “Hard work and a joyful attitude.” She’s right. And the second is harder to find than the first. To be happy, you’ve got to learn how to rise above the “if onlys.” If only I’d more money, if only I’d more talent, if only I was better looking. Money never made anyone more generous, talent never made anybody more grateful and looks never made anyone more fulfilled. Settle it once and for all, things don’t bring joy.
The happiest people are not the richest, the most beautiful or the most talented. Instead of depending on externals for excitement, they enjoy the simple things in life. They don’t waste time thinking that other pastures are greener. They don’t yearn for yesterday or tomorrow. They savor the moment, glad to be alive, enjoying their work, their family and the blessings God has already given them. Their eyes always look upward and outward. They’re aware and compassionate. They’re adaptable. They bend with the wind, adjust to change, enjoy the contests of life and try to walk in God’s purposes for them as individuals.
Paul was one of those people. That’s why he could write letters filled with joy from the most miserable prisons in Europe, while waiting to be executed. How come? Because he realized that unlike your newspaper, which is delivered to you every morning, joy is a garment you have to put on (Isa 61:3)
If A Relationship with God Could Come By Rule-Keeping, Christ Died Unnecessarily
Grace doesn’t give anyone a licence to live as they please, but the judgmentalism that comes from insisting that others live by our standards has caused untold damage. A well-known preacher writes, ‘Legalism spreads a paralysing venom, blinds our eyes, dulls our edge and arouses pride in our hearts. Love is overshadowed by a mental clipboard with a long checklist, requiring others to measure up. Soon friendship is fractured by a judgmental attitude and a critical look.’
Do you think you’re not guilty? Observe your initial reaction when you meet another believer who doesn’t act, think or dress the way you do. Even when you think you’re sophisticated enough to disguise your real feelings, they come out in the stony stare and the holier than thou attitude. Jesus said, “Never criticise, or it will come back on you.”
When you throw mud, you don’t just get your hands dirty, you lose ground! “He among you who is without sin, let him cast the first stone (John 8:7). Blowing another person’s light out won’t make yours shine brighter.
Paul writes, ‘If a relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, Christ died unnecessarily.’ You say, “But what if someone is getting off track or deliberately sinning?” Paul answers, “If someone is caught in sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently, but watch yourself, otherwise you might be tempted (Galatians 6:1). When you judge others, you’re in danger of nullifying the grace you may need yourself before the day is through!
Life Is What You Make It
Once there was an old and very wise man. Everyday, he and his granddaughter would sit outside a petrol station in his rocking chair, waiting to greet tourists as they passed through his small town. One day, a tall man who surely had to be a tourist, began looking round as if he were checking out the area for somewhere to live.
“What kind of town is this?” he asked. The old man replied, “Well, what kind of town are you from?” The tourist said, “One where everyone is critical of each other, a real negative place to live.” The old man said, “You know, that’s just how this town is.”
Later, a family passing through also stopped for fuel. The father stepped out and asked the old man, “Is this town a good place to live?” “Well, what about the town where you’re from? Asked the old man. The father said “In the town I’m from, everyone is close and willing to lend a helping hand; I really hate to leave it.” The old man smiled and said, “You know, that’s a lot like this small town.”After the family had left, the granddaughter looked up and asked, “Grandpa, how come when the first man came you told him this was a terrible place to live, yet when that family came you told them it was a wonderful place to live?” The old man looked down into his granddaughter’s wondering blue eyes and said, “No matter where you go, you take your attitude with you, and that’s what makes it terrible or wonderful.” Yes, life is what you make it.
The Cost Of A Critical Attitude
While a critical attitude doesn’t destroy your relationship with God, it certainly hurts your capacity to enjoy His love and presence. Miriam and Aaron started out criticising their brother Moses, and ended up feeling the consequences most in their relationship with God. Why? Because God pays attention to the way we treat each other.
“Why does God make such a big deal of this?” you ask. Because when you choose to sin, you choose to suffer! Everything God classifies as sin is injurious to you. When God says, “Don’t,” what He really means is, “Don’t hurt yourself.” When He says, “Don’t criticise,” He’s not trying to deprive you of satisfaction, no, He’s saying, “Having a critical attitude goes against the nature of who I’ve made you to be. Fish were made to swim, birds were made to fly and you were made to live in fellowship with Me. A critical spirit hinders that fellowship.”
Even people who don’t claim to be particularly religious are observing the negative effects of criticism upon each of us. Doctor David Fink, author of Release From Nervous, studied thousands of mentally and emotionally disturbed people. He observed two groups: the stressed out-group and the stress free group. Gradually, one fact began to emerge; the stressed out-group consisted of habitual faultfinders, constant critics of people and things around them, while the stress-free group was made up of loving people who were accepting to others. No doubt about it, the habit of criticising is a self-destructive way to live.
The Cost Of A Critical Attitude 2
Who wants to spend time with somebody who constantly monopolises the conversation by updating you on their Top Ten People To Hate List? Staying home and watching old movie re-runs on TV is more appealing than that dinner party. Look out!! The very people you need most are the ones who’ll distance you when you become known as a fault finder.
Sometimes, criticism is inadvertent. On a better day, filled with the Spirit and focused on what’s right, we’d never say those things. Notice how Aaron said, “We have acted foolishly” (Numbers 12:11). He didn’t try to defend his position by saying, “Yes, Moses did marry the wrong person,” or “We should have more prominence.” No, he realised his position then repented and retreated from it. You must do that too! Why? Because criticism blocks the flow of God’s blessings! Oswald Chambers wrote, “Whenever you’re in a critical temper, it’s\impossible to enter into communion with God.” That’s a scary thought! The momentary relief you get from criticizing others isn’t worth the loss of God’s presence. To restore the flow of God’s blessing, you need to confess and forsake your critical attitude, then replace it with a loving one. Why don’t you pray, “Lord, forgive me for thinking that my perspective is always right. I acknowledge that as arrogance. Give me grace in dealing with others. Help me to celebrate our differences and not demand that the whole world sees things exactly as I do. Give me victory over my critical attitude today, in Jesus’ name – Amen.”
The Importance Of Attitude
Here’s why your attitude makes such a difference:
1) Your attitude determines your outcome. Successful people embrace this truth, whether it is a doctor going into surgery, a pastor preparing a sermon or a businessperson launching a new venture. Confidence increases your chance of success every time. When you approach a task, especially one you do not relish, fix your mind on the facts, not your feelings. That will put your attitude on the right track.
2) Your attitude toward others determines their attitude toward you. Smile at people and they will probably smile back. Act hard nosed and they are likely to snap at you. If you want to enjoy people as you go through your day, treat them well. This is not rocket science, but it is easily forgotten – and it is scriptural.
3) Your attitude gives you the winning edge. When world heavyweight champion Joe Louis got knocked down by Tony ‘Two Ton’ Galento in Yankee Stadium, he immediately jumped back to his feet and went after his opponent. When his trainer protested, saying, “Why didn’t you stay down for nine?” Louis said, “What! And give him a chance to rest?” Louis went out in the fourth round and won the fight. Possessing a great attitude gives you the winning edge.
4) Your attitude, not your achievements, brings happiness. Samuel Johnson, the 18th Century poet, stated, “He who has so little knowledge of human nature, as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition, will waste his life in fruitless efforts and multiply the grief which he purposes to remove,”
Dealing With Attitude
If you burn the candle at both ends, you are not as bright as you think. There are times when we all work harder, accomplish less, become fatigued, irritable and cynical, and lose our sense of humour. David was there, “Help, God, the bottom has fallen out.” If that describes how you feel at the moment, here are two helpful suggestions:
1) learn to reach for others. The Bible says that on the seventh day, “God rested from all His work…..” (Genesis 2:3). And rest is still one of His priorities for your life. But that can be a problem when you are a one-man band. Even Moses had trouble sharing the responsibility of keeping two million Israelites happy in the wilderness. Finally, he told God, “I cannot carry all these people; the burden is too heavy, put me to death” (Numbers 11:14-15). That is major burnout! What was God’s response? “I never told you to do it all by yourself. There are talented people all around you just waiting to be asked. Involve them. Do that and everybody will be blessed.”
2) Reject perfectionism. Chuck Braun of Idea Connection Systems gives all his trainees ‘a mistake quota.’ It works like this: each student can make up to 30 mistakes during a training session with nothing to worry about. If anyone uses up all 30, Braun gives them another 30, then another. The result? They learn to see their mistakes as a creative process and begin thinking of them as a learning curve.
Who Tells You The Truth?
Having less information does not make you a lesser person. Life’s a school and every new acquaintance, a teacher. Whatever others know, they have not always known it. The greatest indictment against not knowing, is not learning, so seize every opportunity. But make sure you pick the right people, those who have earned the right to come alongside, and when appropriate, ask the hard questions, bring perspective and keep you on track. When God sends such people, here are four principles that will help you to treat them correctly:
1) Show appreciation. An attitude of “I do not expect it, so I do not give it,” will hurt you and close doors to your future. Never take others for granted and never forget to say thank you.
2) Carry your own weight. Do not be self serving and opportunistic. Always look for ways to make your presence an asset, not a liability. Life owes you nothing except an opportunity to grow.
3) Be open and direct about what you want. Rambling speeches and ulterior motives assume that the other person is somehow less intelligent than you are. That can be fatal.
4) Understand the boundaries. Because others know somebody well enough to call him or her by their first name does not mean you should. If somebody says “Hello, my name is Charles,” do not reply with, “What’s up Charlie?” Show respect. Do not try to change the protocol to suit the environment you are used to. Observe boundaries, respect others and you will always have people in your life who can help you get to where you need to go.
Working In A Difficult Environment
Reject any notion of victim-hood that’s laying claim to your peace and robbing you of contentment. Your job, in spite of its challenges, would have been the dream of your forefathers. Did you not pray to get this job that you now complain about? As difficult as it may be to accept, you are in your present position for a reason; you are also there for a season. Study the course, take the tests, graduate and move on to what God has for you next.
There’s something you need to learn and take with you from your present position into your next one. Like what?
a) skill building, b) character building. You may need to learn computer skills such as Excel and Microsoft Word, plus patience and gratitude. You may need to learn how to manage an office, plus manage your moods. For those who love the Lord, no experience is ever wasted. “……….all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Sometimes it’s difficult to see this in the moment.
When Joseph was in the pit and the prison, it was hard to see how this road would lead to the palace, but it did. God has a master plan for your life. Your current job may well be preparation for the job God has in mind for you. Look back at the steps that have moved you in your present direction, then trust that God is using each experience to bring about His will – and your joy.
Working In A Difficult Environment 2
Work well done is its own reward; it gives us a sense of value. Without a purpose, we tend to get depressed. Do not fall for the media hype that says successful people do not need to work. We were all created to fulfil a purpose, regardless of how much money is in the bank account.
Perhaps you have heard it preached that work resulted from the fall. No! While it’s true that work took on a different meaning, it is a mistake to believe that our first were without purpose prior to this. From the time Adam and Eve were created, it’s been clear that God intended us to be like our Creator; productive, fruitful and invested in tasks that contribute to His purpose. Adam and Eve were given reign over the garden and enjoyed a maximum level of fulfilment in their jobs before their selfish decision to disobey.
“God took the man and put him in the garden, to tend and keep it. Out of the ground, the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. Whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name” (Genesis 2:15 & 19).
The first job description included naming and overseeing the ultimate manager’s position! Similarly, Eve was created to share in these endeavours as Adam’s helper. A man who is not busy does not need a helper! So you need to look no further than your Bible to realise that productive work is God’s plan for your life.
Remembering What’s Truly Important
Have you been grouchy lately? Have you been finding fault with your mate, instead of remembering the wonderful qualities that first attracted you to one another? Attitudes are like weeds: (1) They’re the enemy of every flower. (2) They can spring up overnight. (3) If you don’t consistently deal with them, they take over the whole garden. Maybe this story by Paul Harvey will help you to spot some of your unhealthy attitudes and deal with them.
Carl Coleman was driving to work one morning when he had a bump with another motorist. Both cars stopped and the woman driving the other car got out to survey the damage. She was distraught, it was her fault, she admitted it and hers was a new car less than two days out of the showroom. She dreaded having to tell her husband. Coleman was sympathetic, but he had to pursue the necessary exchange of licence, registration and police reports.
The lady was so badly shaken, that Coleman had to reach into her glove compartment and retrieve her documents from an envelope. On the first paper to tumble out, written in her husband’s distinctive handwriting, were the words: “In case of accident, remember honey, it’s you I love, not the car.”
Before you overreact today, stop, take a deep breath, go for a walk if you need to, but get perspective. Remind yourself that the incident is temporary, it’ll pass, but the words you speak can leave memories that last a lifetime.
The Rich Folks’ Attitudes
The Beatitudes are simply what your attitudes should be! We think of being poor as having very little, yet Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” What did He mean? That self sufficiency can keep you from experiencing God’s sufficiency.
Old John B Rockefeller, a Christian multi-millionaire, once said, “I have made many millions, but they brought me no real happiness. I’d barter them all for the days I sat on a stool in Cleveland and counted myself rich on $3 a week.” W H Vanderbilt said, “The care of $200 million is too great a load for any brain or back to bear. It is enough to kill anyone. There is no pleasure left in it.” John Jacob Astor, who spent his life as a victim of ulcers and depression said, “Work is my only pleasure. It keeps me alive and makes life worth living. I was happier doing a mechanic’s job.” Andrew Carnegie noted that, “Millionaires seldom smile.”