One Step to a Better Attitude

I have been reminded in the past few months of how difficult it can be to maintain a proper attitude in life.  Our own experiences and the news provide plenty of opportunities to be negative and down in the mouth.

Yesterday I was laying stone and another worker taking a few minutes’ break came up to watch.  He began to complain about how the owners had asked him to do some completely unrealistic things simply because they have too much money.

To his credit, what they asked was a bit loony.  They wanted to put air conditioning ducts in the porch outside. You know how your mom always told you to shut the door because she did not want to be air conditioning the neighborhood?  These people wanted to have that set up permanently installed in their porch outdoor kitchen.  Rightly so the company refused to do it because the cool and warm air together would create condensation leading eventually to mold and liability for the air company.

Stepping back from the crazy nature of it all, however, I have to ask, “What did it matter?”  My dad has a saying.  “Maurice, it all pays the same.”  If the owners want us to tear down what we built because they don’t like it after all and we get paid to put in the replacement, what does it matter?

The final analysis has to do with attitude.  In masonry, as in ministry, we are in a service industry, and people are going to do unusual things.

The man watching me had a negative attitude because he had to remove what he had installed and place it somewhere else.  The truth is that he was getting paid to install the same equipment twice in the same home.  isn’t that like the double bonus zone or something?

Gratitude.  We need gratitude.  Your attitude is up to you and no one else.

And so today I am going to practice my own form of gratitude, because I constantly need to adjust my attitude in the positive direction.

My divorce.  Here is my best opportunity to be negative, but I am going to be positive about it.

1.  Because of my divorce I have learned to know myself again.  Five years ago I had a much harder time expressing my emotions; now I am much more in tune with myself.

2.  Because of my divorce my relationship with God has gone to heights I never experienced before.  When you hit rock bottom you can either wallow in the seeming absence of God or cry out like never before.  God answers.

3.  Because of my divorce I can relate to people better than ever before.  The world is broken, and 50% of people inside and outside of the church are divorced, and most of the rest have experienced some other kind of brokenness.  Leading out of my brokenness has enabled me to connect much more effectively with people from the platform and throughout the week.

4.  Because of my divorce I have been forced to think creatively about my future, and the results have been unpredictable and refreshing all at the same time.  This blog, writing poetry, pursuing my doctorate this fall, private teaching and mentoring have all come to fruition because I have been forced to think differently.

5.  Because of my divorce I have been learning how to watch for God to open doors rather than trying to make things happen.  Everything I am now is a result of God opening doors.  I’m excited about what he is going to do next.

6.  Because of my divorce I understand more completely what it means to be a partner in a marriage.  The hours of counseling opened my eyes to the false ideas I believed about being a spouse and made room for the right ideas and beliefs to grow.

7.  Because of my divorce I am learning more clearly how to forgive.

I could go on for a while here.

Divorce is not God’s plan.  Period.  But we are fallen people, and when we sin and make bad choices or simply are oblivious God shakes us up so we see things clearly.  Then he takes us right where we are and walks through it with us, still loving and caring for us, and makes us better people than we were before, if we allow him.

At first I was choosing to be grateful.  Now I truly am.

Where do you need to improve your attitude by choosing to be grateful?

Embracing Change

Several days a week I work in masonry with my father’s company, Fran Overholt, Inc.  This week as I was laying block, another mason on the job commented that he preferred to do things the way he was taught rather than to change.  Evidently at one point another mason had tried to show him a faster way to do something, but he refused to do it; the way he knew was preferable to change, even if the change would have made him more productive.

Several years ago I was the worship leader at a church that had two styles of worship – traditional and contemporary – and it had been that way for about 15 years.  The leadership decided we should do an experiment and lead one style of worship during our five week purpose series.  Needless to say, many people from both styles struggled with the decision.  Leading worship during those five weeks, and particularly during the first three, was more difficult than any other I had ever experienced in worship leadership up to that time.  Knowing that people in the congregation were angry and possibly even resentful towards me and the leadership over the song I was leading at that moment was brutal.

Prior to that experiment I had always said I liked change.  I liked to do new things and experiment.  I still do.  But I have made one small change to my statement.  No longer do I simply say I like change; I now realize that I like change only when I initiate the change.  Ever think about that?  Some people do like change regardless of it’s source, but I would wager that the majority of people only like the change they initiate.

When I made that realization, suddenly I had a lot more compassion and understanding for the older members of our congregation who were struggling with all of the changes.  Suddenly I found that I was often just like them, struggling with the change that someone else initiated without my consent.

I like to think that I interact with the older generations in a completely different way than I had before that change, and I like to think that I am much more honest with myself.  Yesterday I talked about learning to know yourself; well, this was a big step on that path for me, and it keeps me thoughtful when I am proposing changes.

Proverbs 3:13 (ESV) states, “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, .  .”  Wisdom and understanding do not come to us naturally or by some bestowment from God.  We have to seek wisdom and understanding.  “Blessed is the one who finds . . ., and the one who gets . . .”  We must choose to accept and learn from change, to remain teachable.  God made Solomon the wisest man who ever lived, but only after he requested wisdom and understanding to lead Israel (2 Chronicles 1:7-12).

To dig deeper, read this post by Michael Hyatt: The Primary Difference Between The Wise And The Foolish.

How about you?  How do you respond to change?  How do you remain teachable?