The people's voice of reason

Attitudes and Opportunities

In my life journey, I have discovered that attitudes and opportunities go hand in hand! We must seek to keep a good attitude in the midst of life’s ups and downs so that we can actually recognize opportunities when they appear.

I like the attitude of the young lieutenant in this story:

After World War II, a general and his young lieutenant boarded a train in England. The only seats left were across from a beautiful young lady and her grandmother. The general and the lieutenant sat facing the women. As the train pulled out, it went through a long tunnel. For about ten seconds there was total darkness. In the silence of the moment those on the train heard two things – a kiss and a slap. Everyone on the train had his or her own perception of what happened.

The young lady thought to herself, “I’m flattered that the lieutenant kissed me, but I’m terribly embarrassed that Grandmother hit him!”

The grandmother thought, “I’m aggravated that the young man kissed my granddaughter, but I’m proud she had the courage to retaliate!”

The general sat there, thinking to himself, “My lieutenant showed a lot of guts in kissing that girl, but why did she slap me by mistake?”

The lieutenant was the only one on the train who really knew what happened. In that brief moment of darkness he had the opportunity to kiss a pretty girl and slap his general.

The young lieutenant recognized an opportunity and took advantage of it. No doubt he was laughing deep inside. I believe his positive attitude enabled him to see and seize the opportunity to kiss the beautiful young lady. If he had had a negative attitude, he would have probably just felt sorry for himself and been angry that his Commanding Officer and her grandmother were sitting there preventing him from action. Attitude definitely impacts our ability to visualize opportunities.

One of my favorite quotes about attitude and how it affects our lives is Chuck Swindoll’s famous statement about attitude:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, or a home. The remarkable thing is that we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. Nor can we change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We also cannot change the inevitable. The only thing that we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you – we are in charge of our attitudes.”

Wow! Now that is a sobering thought, isn’t it? Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it? I think Dr. Swindoll is correct…we are in charge of our attitudes!

Dr John Maxwell in his awesome book on leadership, Developing the Leader within You, quotes a study done by the Carnegie Institute that analyzed the records of ten thousand persons and concluded that 15% of success is due to technical training. The other 85% is due to personality, and the primary personality trait identified by the research is attitude.

Yes, our attitude determines the opportunities we see and how we handle our feelings towards those opportunities. These two factors, attitudes and opportunities, greatly determine our success!

I think the Apostle Paul had this whole attitude thing figured out a long time ago when he advised us, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too…You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” - Paul, Philippians 2:3-5

I would encourage all of us to spend some time reflecting on the attitude of Jesus…towards God the Father, towards others and towards himself. His humble and joyful attitude was and is no doubt attractive and compelling to countless millions who call themselves his followers. Because of his attitude towards his purpose, Jesus seized the opportunity when it came to offer himself so that everyone else might be rescued!

Attitudes and opportunities go hand in hand! Therefore, have the attitude of Christ and look for the opportunities God puts before you!


Dr. Lester Spencer

Lead Pastor

Saint James Church


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