Attitudes are hard to define but easy to spot.
Solomon wrote, “A person is praised according to their prudence, and one with a warped mind is despised.” (Proverbs 12:8 NIV)
A healthy attitude is one that draws people in and
A negative attitude is one that pushes people away and often repels people.
As leaders our attitudes are critical to our success. Here are a few observations on the importance of our attitude as we influence others.
Five Attitudinal Observations
1. Attitudes reveal the real you in the moment.
“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7 NKJV) Our way of thinking reveals what is going on deep in our souls. An attitude is like a Jack-in-the-box. What is on the inside will always pop out and reveal itself. If you are always cynical that means you are suffering from cynicism. If you are being pessimistic you are drowning in pessimism. If you are being paranoid you are exposing your preoccupation with yourself. If you are hateful you are revealing your hurt. Paul wrote, “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.” (Titus 1:15 NIV)
2. Attitudes dictate outcomes.
The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6 NIV)
The Christian life is filled with choices. Our choices tend to make us or break us. Paul writes that the mind ruled by the flesh (our beastly desires, our earthly natures apart from any divine influence), the mind consumed on self and selfish desires produces nothing but death. This is a pretty strong outcome. Death in the widest sense of the word comprises all the miseries of this life arising from sin that result in the physical, spiritual and eternal separation from God.
The other choice is to have a mind dominated by the Holy Spirit. That is to allow the Spirit who has taken residence in our lives to reign over our thoughts, desires and actions. To be spiritually minded is to seek and submit to the affections, views and leadings of the Holy Spirit, which produces life (the fullness of all that God intended life to be - active, vigorous, devoted and blessed) and peace (the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God). These outcomes are rooted in our way of thinking.
What keeps people from fulfilling their God give potential? It is their negative, self-serving attitude. What allows people to overcome obstacles, to embrace the challenges of life and to positively influence those around them? It is their Spirit-filled attitude.
3. Attitudes affect relationships.
In Paul’s letter to a church in relational strife he appeals to mindset or attitude. He wants them to change their way of thinking and to have the mindset of Jesus Christ.
"Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus." (Philippians 2:1-5 NIV)
My wife Mary was wise beyond her years. As we were raising a young family she would constantly remind me that, “Your attitude dictates the environment of the home”. She was so right. If I came home angry and grumpy the kids would reflect that attitude back to me but if I came home content, happy and hopeful I could shape the mood of our home in a positive direction. I learned a long time ago that you cannot change someone’s attitude, but you can the environment in which that attitude exists through your response.
4. Attitudes are chosen not given.
Our culture says we are all products of our environment. If the home you were raised in was filled with screamers or fighters you will be a screamer or fighter. If you were raised in a home filled with stewing and pouting, then you will become moody and sulky. Yet the bible teaches us we were created with one: the ability to choose, ‘free will’ (Genesis 1:26); and two, through our faith in Christ we are given the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to transform our attitudes and lives (Galatians 5:13-25). Christianity says we are products of grace not products of our environments.
Paul appeals to our position in Christ and reminds us we can choose the focus of our hearts and the attitudes of our minds.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-2 NIV)
5. Attitudes will never be perfect but they can get better.
Ultimately the diseases of a bad attitude find their roots in our fears, hurts and pride. There is no arrival point when it comes to maintaining a healthy attitude. As long as we live in this world it will be a struggle. Paul refers to this with a great word of hope. “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV)
Putting off the old self and putting on the new self is a struggle. It is a sanctifying struggle every serious follower of Jesus wrestles with and yet God has given us the tools to make progress, the Holy Spirit - the word of God and the encouragement of God’s people - the church.
Have you ever seen your favorite sports team lose focus? The mental preparation is just as important as physical preparation. Teams that lose mental focus make mistakes, stupid little errors that can cost them a victory. As spiritual leaders our spiritual preparation is intimately tied to our mental, emotional and physical preparation. In over 28 years of working with spiritual leaders, I have seen that the ministry ending or altering mistakes have always started in their minds well before they came out in their behavior or
Use the following reflective questions to help you and your team maintain a healthy spiritual and
- In the last week how has your attitude revealed a deeper problem?
- Are you satisfied with the outcomes of your life, ministry or work?
- Do you agree with the statement “Your attitude dictates your environment”?
- How does our position in Christ enable us chose a better attitude?
- How do you deal with the struggle of maintaining a healthy attitude on a daily basis?