You can’t just be physically present, but mentally and emotionally too.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)
Attitude can make or break an athlete’s experience and effectiveness. Positive attitudes advance the athlete on and off the field. Negative attitudes erect additional barriers (physical and mental), closes doors and enhances the challenges that naturally come with being an athlete.
According to Google, attitude is both (1) “a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior” and (2) “a position of the body proper to or implying an action or mental state.” It’s two sides of the same attitude-coin: inside-out and outside-in, and athletes have to be able to check them both.
More often than not, I was anxious about going to practice. I enjoyed being great at my sport, I wanted to win, but the process of working toward the goal was difficult and physically, mentally and emotionally tiring. I often dreaded what the workout for the day would be. When I stepped on the track, however, I had to do two things: I had to (1) check the outward expression of my attitude, and (2) check the attitude of my mind that could express itself in a negative way. And it wasn’t me alone; some of my teammates exercised that same self-governance and they just happened to be the high performers on the team.
It serves us well in life beyond athletics to regularly pay attention to the inward attitude of our hearts and the outward attitude that is reflecting itself to those around us.
Outside-In. Let’s be honest; life has its challenges. And just because we choose to live life with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, that does not mean the fruit of the Spirit is always evident in us. The love, the joy, the peace, the patients can sometimes feel so far out of reach. Lord have mercy on those who cross our paths in those moments of temporary fruit-inaccessibility – its absence just shows all over us for everybody who passes by to experience. Now, if we’ve made the choice to Show Up and live this life with Jesus, then all of the love, joy, peace patience, etc. is present with us, we just need to learn how to access it anytime with a little attitude check.
Some days we just wake up with feelings of heaviness and negative emotions. No matter how we try, we just can’t quite “get there”. My only available cry in those moments is that of Psalm 42:5, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Those days call for a sacrifice of praise to God. Forcing a smile even when it hurts, lifting our hands in worship and our voices in spontaneous praise just may be the attitude check we need to start turning around our emotions (especially when we don’t feel like it).
This is not about “faking it”, this is taking positive action to uplift yourself. This is even true for corporate worship services. Sometimes you have to choose to worship even before the pastor’s message starts to stir you up, even if the music doesn’t move you, or your circumstance is so burdensome you cannot even connect to God where you are. Our actions oftentimes have to precede the emotional experience. I’ve experienced God make His presence known, and my emotions transform by choosing to worship God anyway in the middle of unfavorable circumstances. “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” That is outward-in.
Inside-Out. The journey to live this life with Christ is ongoing. It’s moment by moment every day and in every circumstance…yes, even that one. True transformation of ourselves (even in a particular circumstance) begins when we allow God to permeate every area of our life. That happens with the inside-out check of the attitude.
I have one question to start this process. What is on your mind?
Isaiah 26:3 says that God will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in Him. Jesus explains to us in Matthew 12: 33-35 that what comes out of us (our external expressions in this case) is a consequence of what is inside of us. And our first definition of attitude listed above is a settled way of thinking or feeling … that is reflected in a person’s behavior. So, I ask again – what is on your mind?
To check your attitude is to check your thoughts is any given moment. When you notice those heavy or negative emotions within you, ask your soul, “Why are you downcast?” Tune into the thoughts on “replay” in your mind. Are they uplifting thoughts or are they feeding negative emotion? If the thoughts are not uplifting, choose to think about something else. Philippians 4:8 that says, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Colossians 3:1 says to, “Set your mind on things above”. These action items are gifted to us by the Word of God and they work. Make it a point to put this Word into practice every day and see whether or not transformation begins to take place. Focus on the true, the noble, the right, the pure the lovely. Focus on ANY good in EVERY circumstance and person and see if the Holy Spirit does not respond to you with the swelling of love, joy, peace, patience, and more from the inside-out. Attitude Check!
- What is one area in your life where you could use an attitude check? (This could be a circumstance, person, or place, etc.).
- What are three things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy about it that area you chose?
- What do you enjoy doing in worship that helps you feel God’s presence with you? Try doing that spontaneously (perhaps over and over) until you feel God’s presence with you. Then try doing that in a moment when you could use an attitude check.