Lesson 1: Attitude is the Prelude to Effective Relationships!
Read Philippians 2 and 3:1-14
Attitude is the gauge that shows God, others, and you the level and quality of Fruit from the work and ways of God being exhibited in you. Your attitude will be the display case for who Christ is in you, and you may be the only indicator and demonstrator of our Lord someone will ever get to see. So, how is your attitude? Attitude is how you approach others with your outlook on life, your manners, your posture, your feelings, your mind-set, your way of thinking, and your way of behaving. It all comes from Christ's work in you. Now, ask yourself, "how this is going and coming about in times of uncertainty and stress?" How does your attitude impact your daily life? When we have a good attitude, He can better use us, and others can see His work, His creation of a masterpiece in us, in you! Now think about how you grow and show Christ in your life will perhaps be the quintessential template, the perfect example that others just need to see. And when we are trusting and obedient we get to be the one to show Him off. You can be the encouragement and motivation someone else needs, especially if you are in a leadership position. Christians have a responsibility to have the best attitude possible, an impacting and contagious approach to doing life well. When we have a bad altitude, we can see the aptitude of our old ways of sin seeking to take over our thoughts, feelings, and outlook on life and thus may dismay how others see His Lordship of you.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Romans 12:3
Attitude will also help you deal effectively with problems. How do you deal with problems? Do you see them as opportunities? Or, do you just see the danger, and are unable to see beyond that cloak of stress? Do the everyday problems of life so get you down that they control and consume your thoughts and motives? Do the stresses of work, school, or relationships have you so boxed in, overwhelmed, and confused that you do not know what to do? We can either let bad situations control us or we can allow ourselves to learn and grow from them. We can either be masters of our attitude, or be controlled by the bad attitudes of others. A choice is given; an opportunity arises; it is up to us to respond. Attitude is essential for love to flow, for character to be exhibited so that effective relationships can be built. Remember, your attitude is shaped by His work in you; you receive it, work it out, build it, and apply it.
The Chinese word character for stress is a combination of two words, danger and opportunity. This is a great illustration for us, as all problems and stresses can be refined into both categories¾a potential danger and a potential opportunity. One key ingredient will help ensure that you make the right choice, weather out the storm, and become better and stronger. This one word, which encompasses so much of how we are and what we do, is attitude. Attitude has the power to hold us, as well as others, captive. So, knowing how to develop a positive, Christian attitude in our lives will greatly help our relationships and us!
So, I ask again, (and this time try to be honest): How is your attitude? There is perhaps no person who truly feels, deep down, that attitude is not important. Just think about this: how do you feel when people have a good attitude toward you, when someone takes the time to smile and be kind? It is the person who takes the extra time to smile or show care and concern that will impact others positively. How do you feel when people take the time to listen, and have your best at heart? Now, consider how you are to your spouse, girl/boy friend, family, friends, acquaintances, strangers, and the people at church and at work. Are you the person who shows he or she cares? Are you even the person you think you are? Many people think they have good attitudes but, in reality, they do not realize how they come across to others. Do you just expect good attitude from others yet don't try to put effort into it yourself? You would be surprised at how many Christians I have known over the years who fit in this last category!
You should be wondering about your attitude. If you are not, you may have a deeper issue regarding pride. To find out how your attitude is, spend some significant time in prayer, seeking to know if your attitude is in line with the principles in the above passages, keeping His Fullness and Character in mind. Pray about the best way to develop and improve your altitude and how it will impact all of your relationships. Then, take a chance; ask some of your closest friends and family members to keep you accountable regarding your attitude¾without giving them the but, but, but. You need to realize that this is paramount if your life skills and connection to God and others are to improve and grow, and if your life would be filled with more contentment and love. What is in the way of your developing and exercising a good attitude? What about God's call to you in regard to your outlook, spiritual development, and personality?
Attitude-a good one that is-can be tough for some people. I know it can be tough for me at times. Perhaps you have been hurt and have recessed into a pit of anger and self-pity. Maybe you feel justified in holding onto the resentment because of what you have been through in life. The rejections from people, past failures, abandonment, exclusions, betrayal, and hurts have moved you away from the path that God intended. But, consider this: the bitterness will fester, and then tenaciously impact your decisions and relationships. Do you honestly believe you can develop good relationships if your attitude is skewed? Can you truly be happy and content if you are holding onto anger and bitterness? Do you realize the Holy Spirit gives you power to overcome this regardless of what you have been through in life? But, for Him to work effectively and completely, you have to let go of that bitterness and embrace Christ as Lord over all, including your hurts and fears. Remember, He will empower your attitude; just let Him do so!
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Ephesians 5:8-10
Discovering how important and essential a good attitude is must occur before you can get the most out of life including good, effective relationships. We have to wake up from our bitterness to be in His Light. When we refuse to have a good attitude, all we do and say becomes corrupt and skewed; relationships will fall apart, people will be repulsed, and despair and further hurt will impound us more deeply into that pit of despair! When we arise, as the Scripture calls us to do, we will find our attitude refocused on the Light rather than the darkness.
Most, if not all, people love to be cared for¾from the cradle of the infant to preparation for the grave in geriatrics. We start off our lives needing care, and then end it needing care. During all those in-between times, we still need and like to be cared for. In this need for care, we sometimes become experts on the receiving of care, of expecting others to treat us in a certain way. In addition, if they do not, we become dejected and calloused toward them. So, we display the attitude that everyone owes us, or that we deserve better. With this mindset, we don't do a very good job of giving out quality care to others. If you are a Christian and are mature in the faith, you will probably say, no way! I'm not that way! But, do you live your life that way? Do others see you in that poor light? Perhaps, unconsciously, you have a me first identity, always placing the emphasis on the I and/or the me. If only I...if it could go this way for me...then I could.... so that the ownership of your life is completely self-focused, centered only on your needs, desires, and aspirations. All of your goals and attitudes are solely about you. The ownership of your life is yours and yours alone! Nevertheless, as a Christian, you know that is not the way your life should be carried out.
Consider this: Christ calls us to Him and out of ourselves. Our ownership has been transferred; our pink slip has been signed over from our sinful selves to grace in Christ¾if you claim Christ as your Lord. What effect are you having on those around you? What effect is your attitude having on your relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances at school, or in dating, courtship, or marriage? When we relinquish ourselves to Christ, then the proper attitude of life will take over. Our minds and attitudes will become renewed, and our behaviors will become centered on His precepts. Our relationships will become focused on Christ and His work, and not centered upon us.
To turn ourselves around from being mainly self-centered and producing a poor attitude, let us look at what we should be like if we would have a good attitude. The vision of our lives and the result of what we have will be derived from a positive outlook¾a positive attitude based solely on knowing, believing, and accepting what Christ has done for us. So, regardless of our external circumstances, we are to be totally focused on our Lord. This is what faith is all about! We then are to allow our attitudes to be Christ-centered. We can either allow our circumstances to take the lead, or allow Christ to take the lead; the choice is given to us. The effects of our relationships-from keeping friends and a job to choosing a mate and holding onto a successful marriage-are pivoted upon our attitude. Our attitude is pivoted upon growth and maturity in our faith, the acceptance of God's forgiveness, and seeking forgiveness from others so we can practice that Light.
1. What does attitude mean to you? How can we define it? When is it bad? When is it good? How is attitude a gauge that shows God, others, and you the level and quality of God's work in you?
2. How is your attitude like a display case for Christ's identity in you? Have you ever considered that your approach toward others either points others to Christ or distracts them away from Him? Remember, you may be the only indicator someone ever gets to see!
3. How is your attitude in times of uncertainty and stress? How does your attitude impact your daily life?
4. How does having a good attitude help you deal effectively with problems? Do the everyday problems of life so get you down that they control and consume your thoughts and motives? How so?
5. Do you believe that, as a Christian, you have a responsibility to have the best attitude possible, one that is not pretentious or fake?
6. Do you believe that your attitude can be the encouragement and motivation someone else needs to see? How has this been so for you? How did you feel about it?
7. What has happened when you have had a bad altitude? What was the situation and outcome? What could you have done better?
8. How does the aptitude of your old ways of sin seek to take captive your thoughts, feelings, and outlook on life and others? What can you do to prevent this?
9. What can you do to improve your attitude so He can better use you, and others can see His work at work in you? What gets in the way of this happening?
10. What can you do to improve your attitude so it is contagious and impacting? What would that look like? How would the quality of life improve for you? What will you do about it?
11. What needs to take place for you to be totally focused on our Lord? (This is what faith is all about!) What can your church do to help your attitude to be more Christ-centered? Will you commit your attitude to the Lord so your circumstances will no longer take the lead, but will, instead, enable you to allow Christ to take the lead?
12. Do you realize the Holy Spirit gives you power to overcome this, regardless of what you have been through in life? So, how will you allow Him to flow more in you?