Just recently my husband text me a quote “You can’t always control circumstances. However, you can always control your attitude, approach, and response.” Tony Dungy
Ouch! I mean….we have probably all heard similar quotes but what another great reminder for us!
First of all…how true that we are always trying to control our circumstances. As humans, that’s what we do…right? We like to be in control. We like to control our circumstances…at least we try.
In trying to control our circumstances, we may actually have the right motives…whether it be out of care and concern….whether it be to avoid pain or hurt…whether it be for financial provision…or whether it be to protect our families. Regardless of our motives…for many of us… control is part of our nature.
But the reality and truth is…that we are not ultimately in control no matter how hard we try!
God is! The God who created the heavens and the earth…The God who created you…The God who created life and is life…is in control.
And so we first need to accept that we cannot always control our circumstances. Then we need to understand that…
We can always control our attitude…approach…and response. Much easier said than done…right?!
Why is controlling our attitude…approach…and response so important? Because…
Our attitude determines our altitude! Zig Ziglar Motivational Speaker and Author.
Our attitude determines how far we will go! Our attitude determines how high we will soar!
The word “attitude” is defined as “a feeling or way of thinking that affects a person’s behavior.”
Our attitude…our feelings and thoughts…determine our behavior.
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he [in behavior]. Proverbs 23:7 AMP
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23 NIV
Our attitude determines how we will approach…not only our circumstances…but also our life. And consequently…our approach will determine our response. It’s a domino effect.
So it begins with controlling our attitude.
How is your attitude when things don’t go your way in life? How do you approach and respond to circumstances not only in the grand scheme of life but also in your day to day?
Do you complain…worry…become fearful…show frustration or anger…even question God?
We may not always be able to control our circumstance…but we can always control our attitude. How?
Controlling our attitude begins with understanding our purpose.
When we surrender to our circumstances…we have good and bad days. We are at the mercy of what happens to us.
When we surrender to a purpose or cause…we have good days wherever we go…the purpose never dies.
A great example for us in the Bible is the apostle Paul. Take a look at Paul’s attitude while experiencing…one of many…challenging circumstances in his life…being in prison!
12And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. 13For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. 14And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear.
15It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. 16They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News. 17Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. 18But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice. Philippians 1:12-18
Paul could have easily responded to his circumstance with an attitude of anger…frustration…and complaining while awaiting his trial. I mean how would you feel if you were in prison unjustly?
Instead he chose to have a positive attitude…Instead he chose to use even this opportunity in prison to advance the gospel.
Paul was a leader with a purpose. He never drifted from his purpose and was determined to leave his mark wherever he went…even in prison!
Paul’s sense of purpose helped him have a positive attitude and to keep battling while in prison.
What is your purpose in life?
Knowing our purpose will…
- Motivate us
- Keep our priorities straight
- Develop our potential
- Give us power to live in the present
- Help us evaluate our progress
Once Paul determined his life purpose…that purpose daily improved his attitude. In prisons… shipwrecks…beatings…through trials and debates…Paul kept rejoicing because of his strong sense of purpose.
Leaders can either surrender to their circumstances, or they can surrender to a cause [purpose] that is so great their circumstances won’t matter. John Maxwell
Attitude and purpose go hand in hand. Paul’s attitude determined his altitude. Paul’s attitude helped his purpose move forward…then his purpose helped his attitude move forward!
He couldn’t control his circumstance….but he was able to control his attitude. Knowing his purpose helped him to rejoice and have a positive attitude.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLT
We may not always control our circumstances but we can always control our attitude.
When we surrender control to God…we allow Him the opportunity to work in us and help us in our attitude…especially when things don’t go our way in life.
When we allow God to shape us and mold us…change us from the inside out…we will have a better attitude when we face the “beyond our control” circumstances. And as a result…our better attitude will not only affect our life and our purpose in life but will also positively affect the lives of those around us!
- Do you always try to control the circumstances in your life?
- How is your attitude when things don’t go your way in life? How do you approach and respond to circumstances not only in the grand scheme of life but also in your day to day?
- Do you complain…worry…show frustration or anger…even question God?
- Why is your attitude so important?
- How can you control your attitude?
- Do you know what your purpose is in life?
- As difficult as it is…we need to understand and accept that we ultimately cannot control our circumstances…no matter how hard we try. God…the creator of this universe and everything in it…is in control!
- When things don’t go our way in life…we do have control over our attitudes…whether we think so or not. It may not be easy but we have a choice to have a negative or positive attitude and how we will approach and respond to circumstances in life and day to day.
- Our attitude is so important because our attitude determines our altitude! Our attitude determines how high we will soar! Our attitude determines how we will approach…not only our circumstances…but also our life. And consequently…our approach will determine our response.
- Understanding our purpose will help us control our attitude. When we surrender to our circumstances, we have good and bad days. We are at the mercy of what happens to us. When we surrender to a purpose or cause, we have good days wherever we go…the purpose never dies.
- If you are struggling to find your purpose in life, I highly recommend Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life. It will help you discover why God created you and what God wants to accomplish in you and through you on this earth.