There’s an exercise, which I borrowed from John Maxwell, that I’ve used through the years in Bible classes. In fact, why don’t you try it right now?
Write down the name of a friend who you greatly admire.
Now write down one thing you admire most about your friend.
Almost 100% of the time 100% of the people write down a quality that has to do with attitude.
Authors, motivational speakers, and experts in every field of endeavor agree that attitude makes the big difference in life. It’s the difference between success and failure. Between winning and losing. Between a happy and miserable home life. Between friendly and unfriendly relationships. And between personal contentment and discontentment.
In connection with our theme this year, each Monday our word of the week will feature a concept in which renewal is vital to our spiritual growth and discipleship. We begin with “attitude,” because it’s the most basic quality about a person that impacts all other areas.
While the word “attitude” is not often found in most English translations, the concept is present from Genesis to Revelation. From Adam and Eve’s attitude toward God’s commandments to Joseph’s attitude regarding the twists and turns in his life, to Paul’s attitude about whatever circumstance in life that he encountered.
The Bible offers this exhortation to Christians who’ve put off the old person of sin and put on the new self, “be renewed in the attitude of your minds” (Eph. 4:23).
Attitude is simply our outlook, disposition, point of view, or mental frame of reference toward people, situations, and circumstances. It’s an inward feeling expressed by an outward behavior, either verbal or non-verbal. We’ve all noticed little children who don’t get their way show their displeasure with a pouty look and a jutted jaw.
Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar was right when he wrote, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” Consider these important facts that make attitude vital not only to our overall success and happiness but our spiritual development as well.
1. Your Attitude determines your approach to life.
William James, sometimes called the father of modern psychology, observed, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.” Our lives are what our thoughts and attitudes make of it.
Jesus Christ is our great example of the right attitude toward life. In fact, the Bible admonishes, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus (Phil. 2:5). The text continues to describe Jesus’ attitude as submissive, selfless, sacrificial, servile, and spiritual. When you explore the biographies of Jesus’ life, these attitudinal attributes become obvious.
2. Your Attitude Forms Your Character.
This idea has been expressed in various ways by leaders in different fields through the years. “A man is what he thinks about all day long,” opined Essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson. The Indian political leader, Mahatma Gandhi, once said, “A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” And the German-born theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein, once observed that “Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.”
All of these and many other secular writers, simply agree with the Biblical statement, “As a man thinks in his heart so he,” by the ancient wise man (Prov. 23:7).
3. Your Attitude Impacts and Influences your Relationship with Other People.
Simple observation in our own relationships and that of others confirms the reality of this truth. Life is about people. Relationships. And human interaction and activity. From our family life, to our profession, to our social relations, and certainly our spiritual fellowship, our attitude affects all those relationships.
The application of two Bible principles will greatly enhance and improve all your relationships. Practice the Golden Rule: “However you want people to treat you, so treat them (Matt. 7:12). And always apply The Second Great Commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39).
Our 26th U.S. President was correct when he said, “The most important single ingredient to the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”
A lot of folks need “a check-up from the neck up.” How about you?
Take a few minutes to review your attitude. Resolve to reframe it in Christ’s image. And daily decide to be renewed in the attitude of your mind.
Let’s Renew in ‘22.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman