What Does a Christian Attitude Look Like? A Little Different Than the World’s, and It Makes All the Difference.

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Attitude! It governs how we react to the world and how we express ourselves publicly. Are we as aware of our attitudes as we ought to be? If one were to judge the attitude of the common man in America today by the statements, memes, and language found on social media platforms, one might think that the national attitude is profoundly negative.

Attitude truly is everything. It governs how we see the world and thus how we react to it. Pop psychologists tell us to have a positive attitude, but what does that look like for the Christian? There are a couple of questions to ask in this situation:

  1. What kind of attitude do I generally operate out of on a daily base?
  2. Is my attitude rooted in my faith, in my love for God and for others?
  3. Or is it rooted in self-concerns and imagined insults of one kind or another?

The answer will be important to the health of our souls and to the health of all of our relationships.

Pope Francis leads a prayer, with a sermon quote encouraging Christians to seek humility and love.

Pope Francis leads a prayer, with a sermon quote encouraging Christians to seek humility and love.

If we base our general attitude toward all things on how they affect our own personal sense of importance, or our personal satisfaction, we are bound to be disappointed. A negative attitude, because it is so completely self-focused, causes us to be angry or disappointed at everything that does not meet our own personal needs, or our own self-important view of ourselves. If a negative attitude becomes our habit, we will become less able to see the good in anything, or anyone. Worse, we can fall into despair that the world can ever be good for us. Because everything is taken personally, we can find ourselves getting caught up in the habits of inordinate anger and constant complaint toward all things. We can begin to see others as problems, or worse, as enemies. Or we can begin to see ourselves always as victims, never able to see ourselves, or our own attitudes, as the source of our own unhappiness.

On the other hand, if our attitude is shaped by our awareness of our complete dependence on our loving God, and if we see and experience everything, the world, nature, and the people in our own lives, as gifts from God, we will also find ourselves happier and more able to deal with the unfair and painful realities that often come our way in this life. If our attitude is driven more regularly by our love for God, and likewise, our love for others (our neighbors), we will more than likely be able to see the bright side of things, and we might be moved more by an attitude of hope in all circumstances. This attitude comes, of course, from a humble awareness of who we are in relationship to God. And such an attitude really does make all the difference.

If in self-reflection we find that our attitude has been a bit rough around the edges of late, we can change our attitudes by once again placing our focus back on God and his generous mercy toward us. We can deepen our prayer life and steep ourselves in the Scriptures. In doing these things we may find that we really have more reason to live out of an attitude of thanksgiving than one of constant accusation and complaint. God’s grace and love can turn all things to good

Do we see the world from God’s omniscient and magnanimous point of view, or do we see and judge it out of our own finite and materialistic point of view. If the former, our attitude toward all things will be positive and formed by love and forgiveness. If out of the latter, we will find ourselves consumed by anger, mistrust, and bitterness toward the world, and worse, toward our neighbor. The former is the path to happiness, the latter to a world full of pain and misery. Which attitude do we want?

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.
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