Why attitudes matter


Dr. Hal Brady

Arriving home one day, I was having a great deal of difficultly with my attitude. I had just come off the expressway and I was disgusted with some of the other drivers. I had had it with speeding drivers, reckless drivers, tailgating drivers, lane-changing drivers, and light-running drivers.

Since no one was home when I arrived, I trudged to my study to cool down. In a few minutes I opened a book and almost immediately spied another minister’s sermon title. Instantaneously, I knew that God was using that sermon title to speak to me. The title read, “In God’s Name, Be Gentle!” It was by Dr. Lloyd John Ogilvie.

But there the truth was, staring me straight in the face. No gentleness! No joy! It was something I knew but evidently had forgotten in my disgust.

Ladies and gentlemen, frequently it is our own negative attitude toward others and our unwillingness to treat them gently that keeps us miserable. Our own negative attitude keeps us bound in our hurts and resentments, and, consequently, robs us of our joy.

Today, I want to say a few words about the importance of having a good attitude. Why does attitude matter?

First, attitude matters because we have seen the results of poor attitudes! Years ago, well- known sportscaster Grantland Rice said that it was not important whether we win or lose, but “how we played the game.” Beautiful words, but the reality is that our society doesn't accept them anymore. The sole emphasis today seems to be on winning. We have bought into the philosophy, “Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser.”

In a society of superstars and celebrities in nearly every field, there is enormous pressure to win. So when an individual or team loses we often hear excuses, complaints or accusations. And, on occasion, we see temper-tantrums, fights and other demonstrations of poor sportsmanship.

Someone wrote, and I like it, “Don't complain about the way the ball bounces if you are the one who dropped the ball.”

Second, attitudes matter because they affect every aspect of our lives. As a matter of fact, our lives depend on our attitudes. Good relationships and good jobs ride on our right mental attitudes. Generally speaking, people want to be around those who are optimistic and who demonstrate a love of life. “Prophets of doom” are simply not in great demand.

Now, not anybody can be smiley all the time, but having a positive attitude is nothing to be sneezed at. It has something to do with believing in ourselves and having confidence that God is in control.

Third, attitude matters because it can offer hope to the world! William James states that “human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes.”

You will remember Norman Cousin’s book, “Anatomy of an Illness.” The book was about his own struggle to overcome an incurable illness. He described how his laughter, his refusal to accept the incurable verdict, his determined will to live, and his becoming a partner in the development of his own treatment, led to his recovery. Cousin’s life, indeed, was altered by his own attitude!

It is my firm conviction that human beings can alter their cities by altering their attitudes. Do you ever get weary of hearing about our cities’ problems: racism, crime, poverty, faulty governments, the lack of leadership, etc.? Well, I do, but we must not ignore the fact that our cities have problems. However, it is time to stop cursing the darkness in our cities and to light a few candles. A positive attitude will do wonders.

Dr. Hal Brady is a retired pastor who continues to present the Good News of Jesus Christ and offer encouragement in a fresh and vital way though Hal Brady Ministries.