Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

An Attitude Adjustment

As kids growing up it was not unusual to hear some adult state with absolute certainty that some person needed an attitude adjustment. Most often this carried with it a rather ominous tone with heavy implications that a boot to the person’s backside was a good start.

I’ve heard it said that life is more about a person’s attitude than it is talent or ability. This seems to make sense, particularly when we are witness to pampered athletes and Hollywood actors who have the world at their feet with adoring fans, and a ridiculously engorged bank account. It strikes me, as well as many of you, that these are the folks who have hit life’s lottery, yet they frequently behave like spoiled children.

I knew a Navy lieutenant who needed an attitude adjustment. This hot-shot officer was zipping around a military base in his nifty little sports car when the tell-tale lights of a base security car lit him up. As the young Marine lance corporal approached the car, the lieutenant unwisely decided to exert his superior rank on this junior enlisted man. “How dare he pull me over!” thought the lieutenant. Following protocol, the lance corporal rendered a hand salute to the Navy officer and then asked for his license and registration. As he handed over the requested documents, the lieutenant said, “Do you know who I am?” Not missing a beat, the lance corporal replied, “No sir. Do you know who I am? This badge that I wear should tell you that I am the direct representative of the commanding officer on this base, and I can assure you that he will be very interested in knowing who you are!” This story did not end well for the lieutenant. The commanding officer of the base brought up this attitude issue with the lieutenant’s command. As a result, the lieutenant was encouraged to find employment elsewhere – outside of the Navy!

All of us, at one time or another, have found ourselves struggling with a bit of an attitude problem. Our egos get in the way with a hyper-inflated sense of self-importance, and the next thing you know, folks simply do not like you, and do not wish to be around you. It is at this moment that we would do well to remember what God wants for us. In the Bible it says, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” Let’s think about that for a minute. We’re to give thanks to God in all circumstances. Hmmmmm. Why would the Bible suggest such a thing? Allow me to offer these thoughts.

First, you and I must consciously choose the attitude we will have. You may be saying right now that you don’t even think about what attitude you have. After all, you’re just being you. And at least you’re being honest about it! Here’s the problem with this sort of thinking. When you do not choose to be positive, you will always drift toward being negative. That’s the problem with our sin nature. When you do not choose to be positive, by default, you have chosen to be negative. So when you allow the negative to rule, you are frequently unpleasant, which you then excuse by saying such silliness as, “Well, that’s who I am, like it or not.” Or “I’m just being honest.” And you’re being unnecessarily hurtful of others in the process.

Second, you may be wondering how you could possibly be thankful in all circumstances. Ah! Here’s the interesting part. Two things are at play here. The first is how your outlook changes when you choose to be thankful even when the circumstance does not seem to warrant thankfulness. The second part is you simply do not know what God knows, therefore you cannot see what he may want to accomplish through the circumstance you are facing. This is where trusting God is essential and critical.

The best way to establish this attitude of thankfulness which God wants you to have, is to intentionally offer up your thanks to him for his love, for his provision, for his gift of life, and for his gift of eternal life through Jesus his son. When you choose to change your attitude, and demonstrate a thankful attitude, your whole outlook on life in general, as well as on every aspect of your daily existence, will alter. You will like the change and others will like it too.

So, as you gather with family and friends for Thanksgiving, choose now to have an attitude of thanksgiving. By so doing, you bless God, and others will also find they are blessed to be with you.

And eat a drumstick for me!

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