Attitudes are contagious, they say. But the question is: Would anyone want to catch yours?
I find that my attitude can take a dive so fast, if I don’t check up on it frequently, I’ll be in that negative frame of mind before I know it. And let’s face it—the workplace can be one of the most difficult places to keep our attitudes positive and upbeat.
We can start our workday in a good mood and by the end of the day, we’re griping and complaining about something, looking on the dark side, imagining the worst. Our attitudes can go downhill fast.
Maintaining a good attitude where we work—toward our work and toward the people we work with—is one of the areas where we can have a strong witness on our jobs, if we can keep our attitudes where they should be.
Let’s take a look at some key areas where our attitudes can easily start to go down hill, and then see what the Bible has to say. I imagine you’ll be able to relate to some of these.
Griping and Complaining
Have you ever been around someone who loved disasters and crises? I’ve run into that person on a job or two of mine. They gripe about everything and everybody, and seem to really enjoy spreading any bad news they can dig up. Even when there’s something good happening, they’ll find the fly in the ointment and do their best to spoil the good times for everyone else. You know, that person can get on your nerves after a while!
It’s become normal and acceptable for employees to complain and gripe about the company and the management. How often do you hear coworkers complaining about the way the company is run, the pay scale, the work environment, the benefits—you name it. And here’s the thing: When others start complaining and griping around us, we almost feel like we have to agree with them or join in because otherwise we’re kind of weird.
And of course, we as Christ-followers are just as susceptible to this griping and complaining disease as anyone else. But the difference is—or should be—that we determine by God’s grace not to be a part of that scene.
There’s a verse in the Bible that addresses this:
“Do everything without complaining or arguing” (Philippians 2:14).
“Everything” leaves no room for fudging, because it includes your unfair wages, the difficult boss, the annoying co-worker, the way the company treats you—and even the weather! Complaining is such a waste of energy and it’s stressful on you as well as everyone around you!
A friend of mine works for an organization that truly fights this griping culture from the top down. And one of their work mottos is—simply—“No whining.” It’s an attitude that is encouraged because it makes such a difference in the work product as well as the environment. Attitudes really are contagious, and you can be a part of passing on to others a good attitude, a positive one.
That doesn’t mean that you don’t recognize and, when necessary, confront issues that need to change. But griping and complaining never changed anything except to make things worse.
As you go to your job, ask God to keep you from complaining. Stop in mid-sentence if you have to and refuse to get caught up in this complaining tendency. Doing our jobs without complaining is one of the strongest testimonies we can have for Jesus Christ.
Don’t Like the Job
Did you know studies show that almost half of the people in the workplace report that they really don’t like their jobs? Wow, that’s rather discouraging. I can just visualize those thousands and thousands of people headed out to their jobs each day dreading it. Reminds me of that old commercial about the man whose job was to bake donuts everyday. You remember the one: “Time to make the donuts.” You could just see it in his face and hear it in his voice; he hated to make those donuts.
Can people see in your face and hear in your voice that you hate your job? I well remember having a new job which looked so interesting when I accepted it but was so boring once I began working there. I did not like the job content, and as a result, I didn’t work very hard, I couldn’t wait for the days to end, and I wanted to blame others—like my manager—for the fact that I didn’t like my job.
You know, if you don’t like your job and that is affecting the way you work, you need to do some soul searching and pray about that attitude. There may be good reasons you don’t like your job, but there’s no good reason to harbor a bad attitude about it. There’s nothing wrong with looking for a different job where you’ll enjoy the content more, but as long as you’re there, you owe your employer an honest day’s work for your paycheck. Then, have you ever thought about what you might be able to do to make your current job more interesting? If you see a better way to do things, or you have an idea of something that could be done to improve the organization, then why not at least try to see if your ideas might be accepted?
Sometimes when we find ourselves in a job we really don’t like, we can justify in our minds that we have a right to goof off. Have you ever found yourself thinking something like: This job is so boring and so beneath me that I’m just going to get by until something better comes along.
The truth is, as Christians, we don’t have such a right. We are obligated by our commitment to the principles of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to work with all our might at whatever we’re doing, because ultimately we’re working for the Lord, not for people.
If you’ve been hating your job lately, remember that God can help you with an attitude adjustment. You may not be able to change the things you don’t like about your job, but you can, by God’s grace, change your attitude. Your attitude is your choice.
Trying to Control the Uncontrollable
Have you ever noticed how upset we get over the uncontrollable things that happen in our days? It’s one of our major energy leaks, and it can really ruin your attitude. Start to notice how often you get upset or irritated over things which are totally out of your control. I think you may be surprised to discover how often it happens.
For instance, you can find yourself yelling at machines: What do you mean, “Call key operator.” Come on, I need these copies right now! Or at the weather: It’s raining again!? I am so sick of this lousy weather. Is the sun ever going to shine again? Or maybe this one: My flight is cancelled? Why? What’s the matter with this airline? I’ve got to get to Indianapolis tonight!
Trying to control the uncontrollable–it is a futile effort and all it does is put us in a bad mood. Then, while we’re fretting over things which we cannot control, we are losing control of the things we can control.
For example, we can control our words and avoid saying things that upset or discourage others. But when we’re trying to control the uncontrollable, we often lose control of the words we say and end up saying things that are hurtful or discouraging.
We can control how we think and bring every thought into captivity, but when we’re trying to control the uncontrollable, we lose control of our thoughts and start thinking all kinds of negative and unkind and untrue things.
Here’s a good motto for you and me to remember:
If you will control the controllable, you can cope with the uncontrollable.
Focus on staying in control of the things that are your responsibility; when you do, you’ll have the strength to cope with those uncontrollable events in your day. How do you do that? The Apostle Paul gave us some very good advice:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
If we really practice this principle on our jobs, we’ll have very good work attitudes, and in the process we’ll reduce our stress, improve our productivity and enhance our witness for the Lord. God’s Word is relevant to the uncontrollable things that will happen to you today. Don’t forget it.
I’ve finally concluded that if I didn’t have to deal with other people, life would be easy! Do you ever feel that way? It just amazes me how many people don’t think like I think, don’t see things the way I see them, don’t hold the same obviously correct opinion that I hold! Henry Higgins in “My Fair Lady” expressed this frustration in the song: Why can’t a woman be more like a man? But I think the words need slightly re-arranging: Why can’t people be more like me?
Often these people conflicts can ruin our attitudes and drag us down rather quickly. And you know what I’ve discovered? I am very prone to focus on a person’s negatives and forget about their positives.
A friend of mine was having a hard time accepting the fact that a coworker was always late in getting his job done. She found herself often waiting for him to do his job so she could do hers, and it seemed that no amount of reminders or cajoling caused him to respond more quickly. But finally she realized that this was annoying, but in the end he always came through and his work product was always done well. So, she simply began to count on the fact that he would not be on time, and she found ways to deal with it—getting other things done while waiting on him.
Now that doesn’t excuse his tardiness, but it reduced her stress greatly and made it so much easier for her to work with him. I call that putting a person in a different frame. Instead of thinking of him as “always late,” she began to think of him as “work well done.”
Put someone in another frame—have you ever tried that technique? This is a wonderful way to keep your attitude in good shape, and it’s right out of God’s Word:
“If you believe in goodness and if you value the approval of God, fix your minds on whatever is true and honorable and just and pure and lovely and praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8 J. B. Phillips).
Often when we must deal with unpleasant or irritating people, we focus so much on their negative qualities that we totally lose sight of their good ones. The King James Version says to think about the good reports, and I love that phrase, because so often I’m prone to think about the bad reports. That person who is causing you trouble right now—well, there is some good report about that person if you’ll just look for it. Make yourself think about the good report, the new frame you’ve put them in. You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to get along with them.
Once you get used to this practice of re-framing people who are difficult, you’ll discover the great side benefits: Reduced stress, less anxiety, better sleep, happier days. You will benefit more than anyone else when you learn to re-frame and think about the good reports, not just the bad ones.
The Apostle Paul wrote: “Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything…” (Ephesians 5:19-20). If you are having some difficulty with your work attitude now, are you willing to put this passage to the test? First, start singing in your heart to the Lord—I mean literally, start singing. Then thank God for whatever it is that you don’t like in your life right now. Tell God that you trust him to make lemonade out of these lemons, and by a set of your will, choose to be thankful. It’s a sure way to readjust your attitude.more