The attitude on an aircraft is the orientation of the plane with respect to the earth’s horizon. The plane can be banking left or right, and its nose up or down. The attitude of the plane can be adjusted by the pilot regardless of the circumstances. In other words, the attitude of the aircraft is dependent upon the action of the pilot rather than any storm or turbulence it may pass through.
Similarly, we control our attitude in life. No matter what is happening or what we’re going through, we have the ability to choose our attitude. Just like people have an IQ (their level of intelligence), an EQ (their dimension of emotional intelligence), an SQ (their level of revelation of spiritual things particularly the Word of God), they have an AQ, which is their ability to be aware of, take ownership of, and adjust their attitude. We can be intelligent, be in touch with our emotions and the emotions of others, be growing spiritually, and yet be defeated because we refuse to tend to our negative attitude.
Paul told the Ephesians to “be made new in the attitude of your minds” (Ephesians 4:23, NIV), he challenged the Philippians to have the same selfless, humble, and obedient attitude of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5, NLT), and he questioned what happened to the positive attitude of the Galatians (Galatians 4:14, ISV). Paul understood that the attitude is a self-directed pattern or mental position that affects our expectation, energy, and outlook in life. Attitude is not a reflection of what happens to us, but a reflection of what happens in us. It is the greatest predictor of our success and failure in life.
The return of the twelve spies after being dispatched by Moses to scope out the promised land illustrates perfectly the impact of a negative attitude in life. The spies, excluding Caleb and Joshua who had a right attitude, focused on the obstacles, talked the problem, spread negativity, and became self-fulfilling prophets of their own perspective. The Bible says, “A man’s spirit (attitude) sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit (attitude) who can bear (Proverbs 18:14). There’s nothing more powerful than a positive attitude, and nothing more devastating than a negative one.
As a spiritual leader I’ve found that people, including Christians typically function in one of four attitude types. First, some believers walk in a sweet spirit or an attitude that is tender peaceable, agreeable, pleasant, and edifying to be around. Others are empowered and encouraged when they get around a sweet spirit. Second, some believers have a salty spirit or an attitude that is opinionated, passive-aggressive, sarcastic, and critical. Third, other believers have a spicy spirit or an attitude that is easily hot and bothered, reactionary, and frequently angered and offended. Finally, some believers have a sour spirit or attitude that is prickly, bitter, downcast, and discouraged.
The good thing about attitude is we can, just like the pilot, adjust our attitude. This requires first that we are aware of our attitude (sweet, salty, spicy, or sour), and that we monitor our attitude day-to-day because the attitude is not fixed or static. Second, we need to analyze and honestly evaluate our attitude in light of the Word of God through self-accountability. If you are having trouble with this, simply ask your spouse or good friend. They can probably fill you in. Third, we need to expose ourselves to spiritual disciplines and activities that foster an ongoing sweet attitude like time in God’s presence, His Word, public and private worship. The Holy Spirit has a way of jerking us out of a lousy attitude when we spend time in the things of God. Fourth, we need to give our attention daily to making a quality decision (one from which there is no retreat) that we are going to be positive and sweet and not salty, spicy or sour no matter what happens in life.