Attitude Check

A few weeks ago our family was driving somewhere in the car when my two older kids ended up in a terrible mood, complaining about everything. “It’s too hot.” “I don’t like driving in the car.” “Why can’t we go to McDonalds?” “We don’t get to have any fun.” “Why can’t we have any treats?”…. and so on. It started with my daughter and then my son caught on and pretty soon nobody was having any fun at all.

Thankfully God brought to mind his command to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18),  so we interrupted the escalating complaint fest and asked my daughter to start sharing all of the things that she could think of that she was thankful for. It took a few moments to convince her that this was in fact a good idea, but finally she went along with it. Pretty soon she was listing everything that she could think of, from people, to toys, to animals, to favorite colors, etc, and sure enough her little brother quickly caught on as well, and very soon the mood switched from gloom and misery to joy and gratitude.

I was thinking the other day about how this same idea so easily works out with regards to our attitude toward our calling and particularly toward the cultures in which we serve, and even the challenges that we face in our daily lives and ministries. It can be so easy to get into a rut of complaining about all of the little things that frustrate and exhaust us, whether we do it verbally or internally. The worst is when we do it verbally around those serving with us. We can so easily bring one another down if we aren’t careful! I have definitely experienced what I initially thought to be harmless venting, only to find myself more frustrated in the end rather than feeling any sense of relief and likely having put someone else in a foul mood as well.

But, just like what happened during our little car ride with the kids, we can easily shift our focus and even the focus of those around us by consciously giving thanks for the blessings that we get to experience in the callings that God has given us! I of course don’t suggest ignoring true struggles or pretending  like everything is wonderful when it isn’t, but I know for myself that sometimes my dissatisfactions in life come not from true hardship, but rather from a lack of gratitude and a self-pitying focus. I know that this idea is not new to any of us, but it can be easy to not put these things into practice and to get carried away into discontent!

What are you thankful for today? Is there anyone around you that you could encourage with an attitude of thankfulness? May you find joy today as you give thanks in all circumstances!

(Post by: Ashley)


3 Responses to “Attitude Check”

  1. 1 Liz K September 2, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Thank you. I needed this reminder this morning!

  2. 2 Phyllis September 2, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    This is the secret of my life…of the joyful days in my life. 🙂

    Right this moment I am thankful:
    that my husband is on his way back to us.
    for the BEAUTIFUL weather.
    for a good first piano lesson for our son.
    for lasagna for dinner. 🙂
    that we had such a good day.

    (The sunflower picture looks like the fields around here. I love them!)

  3. 3 Shilo September 2, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    I love this quote by John Henry Jowett…”Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic”. And I so often need the medicine of thanks to cure the effects of the sickness (not negating it is sin, just going with the metaphor here) of discontent! The neatest thing is that God’s prescription of giving thanks really, really works! The wisdom of God is truly amazing!

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