It’s All in Your Attitude
As our plane made its landing approach, we looked down on the sprawl that was the metropolis of Manila/Quezon City. We were met by friends who led us through the maze of taxi drivers trying to entice us into their cabs. The drive to Quezon City from the airport was a cultural education in itself. It seemed like organized chaos as cars jockeyed for position, and the advantage. I was amazed no accidents occurred on that first drive in the city!
Our ‘education’ continued when we arrived at the house where we would be staying: a large 4 bedroom two story home built like a fortress, surrounded by an eight foot high concrete block wall topped with broken glass imbedded in concrete to impede intruders and a large solid metal gate with a small four feet by two feet door in the center through which you had to step to enter the grounds. On the streets, some people lived in make shift shelters they created by leaning large boards against the outside walls of private lots. Each morning, I would see them emerge from behind their lean-to’s nicely dressed and go off to their jobs. It was truly incredible and an adjustment to see people living in these conditions just outside enormous mansions.
But our greatest adjustment had to do with our training. Our fellow trainees included other CCC staff members, mostly from the U.S., as well as doctors, nurses and teachers who came to serve as vocational missionaries in various countries. Because of the variety of trainees, the training necessarily was taught from the perspective of someone who knew nothing about the CCC ministry. For those of us who had been involved in ministry for several years, it was a bit of a shock to have to start from the very beginning, having to learn things that we had been teaching to others. After several weeks into the training course, some found the curriculum redundant and frustrating, and began a silent rebellion against the leadership of the Training Center.
I began to resent the time I felt was being wasted learning the basic things I already knew. After all, didn’t they know I had been a campus director coordinating a team of staff members in training hundreds of students? What was I doing relearning these basic things all over again? I should be getting ready for PNG instead!
But I was missing out on the real curriculum ... God’s curriculum. For those of us who were familiar with the training, God had a different course in mind. And it had to do with how we handled this situation. We could either continue in resentment or we could change our attitude and view the course as a time of necessary review, enjoying the fellowship of our fellow trainees and the hospitality of the Filipino staff. I eventually decided the latter was the better choice ... and that’s really what made the difference! We could choose to be resentful, clenching our fists at those in authority, or submit to their leadership and see what could be learned from their instruction.
What a difference an attitude adjustment made. The rest of our time in the Philippines was a joy! I began wishing we could stay there and continue working with the national staff to reach their country. Traveling through the vast metropolis via the colorful jeepneys, the wild taxi rides and the occasional splurge on an air conditioned bus became second nature. We learned our way around the city which kept us from getting ripped off by unscrupulous taxi drivers who feigned ignorance in their quest to earn more fare by taking us the long way to our destination. I was beginning to feel like a local, enjoying the kaleidoscope of sights and sounds of that great city and even becoming used to the smell of diesel fumes from the countless buses that clogged the streets. Even to this day, that smell teleports me thousands of miles to the streets of Cubao where I stand in my mind’s eye among a sea of people surrounded by shops and market places selling a cornucopia of products.
I believe the difference between having a positive or negative experience in any situation is our attitudes. It is how Jesus endured the cross ‘for the joy set before Him’ and how Paul could sing in a damp and smelly jail cell. They were not defeated by the experience or environment around them but were victorious in them for they saw the bigger picture. And that one change in perspective made all the difference in the world!
Are you right now in a situation that seems a waste of your time? Maybe it’s a class you’re taking, or having to be in school at all. Or perhaps it’s having to sacrifice your time for someone or something that you’re beginning to resent. Stop and take a different perspective on your situation. Get the bigger picture and see it from God’s vantage point. What lessons or opportunities might He be offering you? Choose to see it His way, and you’ll discover His plan for your life.