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Is Your Attitude Pouring Into or Draining On Others?

Your attitude - whether seen or unseen - impacts others in one of two ways. It either drains or pours into. It’s no cliche. It’s fact. One that Jonathan Edwards understood well, and did what he could to ensure his attitude was one that was honoring of God.

We often hear about attitude and the importance of it. Clichés, like “your attitude determines your altitude” and “attitudes are contagious, make yours worth catching” are pretty common. As you may know, I am no fan of clichés, but I do also acknowledge that clichés become clichés because they are generally true.

Such attitudinal clichés can be had as we consider Edwards’ 4th Resolution.

Jonathan Edwards Resolution 4

Edwards’ Resolution #4 (as it was written)
Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

Edwards’ Resolution #4 (in my modernized language)
Resolved: Never to do any physical or spiritual thing if it detracts from God’s glory. I further resolve to not even grieve or complain about these things if possible.

The Nature of Attitude

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.Colossians 3:17 (NLT)

To add to our clichés, let’s start with “an attitude of gratitude.”

You see, when our attitudes are visible, they are on display. It’s a display for all to see. It’s like putting us – and our attitudes – directly into a spotlight. In this verse of Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae, the apostle explains that we should aim to gain the acceptance with God in all our actions. This applies to the physical movements, the words we use, as well as thoughts of his heart (and we’ll explore that more in a moment).

Here, it’s appropriate to also consider the last part of the passage, “giving thanks through him to God the Father.” It’s another reminder that everything – everything – is done first, only if God allows it. That means, we should be offering our praises in continual prayer to God. I encourage your to give Dirty Glory a read for more on 24/7 prayer. And accepting of our thanks is fully upon God, as we have no authority on our own.

Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused.Romans 1:21 (NLT)

The thoughts and actions we take when we are unseen – invisible to others – may seem harmless. However, what goes forgotten is the influence those actions and thoughts have on our hearts. In short, our internal attitude guides us. Being in church once a week is visible. However, if every thought and deed outside of church is counter to what you profess, and there is zero time spent in prayer, you have knowledge OF God, but do not KNOW God.

Similarly, if you are prone to telling people you are “Christian but not religious” while avoiding prayer and studying the word, it just may be an attempt to remove yourself of a guilt.

In either instance, we’re not honoring God as a God. It’s more likely that we are tying to buy “fire insurance” just in case, without having genuine faith. When that happens, it’s a matter of making God in our image and according to our imaginations.

So what is the answer to this? In a lot of ways, it begins with attitude. Moreover, it’s about carrying a positive light in all that you do.

How to Carry an Attitude of Optimism

In Edwards resolution, I find it pretty important that he further resolves to not grieve or complain (aka “whine”) about those things he’s called to do for glorifying God. If there is just one thing I can make sure I have taught my kids about attitude, it’s that people simply cannot stand whiners.

As a reforming cynic who used to be one of those people who said “I’m not a cynic, I am a realist,” I know first-hand how complaining ruins relationships. Not only does it anchor you in mediocrity, it is the express lane to being identified as a toxic personality.

Most people – if they give a crap about their own personal advancement – will run from such toxic personalities. Because I worried so much that I might be considered toxic, I decided I needed to find a way to alter my attitude. I have not yet perfected it (not even close on some days), but I am a work in progress.

So, a few years ago, I adopted a mentality of trying to be someone who “keeps the water flowing.”

Your attitude - whether seen or unseen - impacts others in one of two ways. It either drains or pours into. It’s no cliche. It’s fact. One that Jonathan Edwards understood well, and did what he could to ensure his attitude was one that was honoring of God.

Your attitude – whether seen or unseen – impacts others in one of two ways. It either drains or pours into. It’s no cliché. It’s fact. One that Jonathan Edwards understood well, and did what he could to ensure his attitude was one that was honoring of God.

Does You Attitude Drain, or Does it Pour Into Lives?

In How Full is Your Bucket, author Tom Rath explains a very simple concept of our interactions being responsible for either dipping from or into another person’s metaphorical bucket. Practically speaking, you are either adding positivity or negativity to that person’s life.

Think about that for a second. Your words, your deeds, your every interaction with others has a result. That result is never indifference. You are either adding to their life, or taking a toll on it.

Let’s look at it another way.

In my work life, I have met many individuals. I’ve learned much through my relationships with them. I’ve gained much – and I have also been drained much. One valuable lesson came courtesy of a new executive who explained why he chose to join the company. He brought up the oft-used analogy of a glass being half empty or half full.

Then, he explained that he doesn’t ask either question. He instead looks at situations and asks, is there water flowing? In other words, is there momentum?

In this case, he explained, there was indeed water flowing – momentum – in the company’s favor.

As he explained this, I immediately thought of the bucket dipping concept. I have since come to mash-up these concepts. Nowadays, I ask if I am pouring in or draining out?

  • Did that interaction have a pouring into or a draining from impact on the person(s)?
  • Did it pour into or drain from our desired goals?
  • If there are ripples, will those be draining or filling?

Similarly, you will land in situations where you feel stuck, and maybe the water just isn’t flowing any longer. When that happens, ask similar questions:

  • Why is the water (the momentum) no longer pouring (and therefore draining)?
  • Did I impact the flow of that water (momentum)?
  • Regardless of everything else, how can I be an instrument to stop the draining and restore pouring?

Lastly, at the end of every day, ask;

Did I pour in more than I drained – at work, at home, in life? For God?

If you are unable to definitively answer “yes” four times, reread Edwards’ Resolution #4. Then, think about what you can do to correct the flow.

About Chad Gramling

Chad Gramling makes his home in Indiana with his wife and three daughters. He's the founder and primary blogger at 1Glories, a vision cast onto his heart and detailed in Listen Up Kids: Foolish Dreams, Syncing with God & Running to Win.