Your attitude, more than your aptitude will determine your altitude. This short pithy saying means that you attitude is more important than how talented you are when it comes to being able to fly high, that is, be successful, in whatever you are doing. Sport teams look for more than raw ability when they are choosing their players. Lou Holtz, a famous football coach, observed, “Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do, and attitude determines how well you do it”.

We all have some ability. Especially when it comes to our service for the Lord, we have talents God has given us to use; we are to share the good news of the kingdom with others, to spread cheer by visiting the sick and sad, to send cards, to train up the young in the fear of the Lord, to encourage and uplift our fellow brethren,. Everyone is capable of doing many of these things, but some never get around to doing any of these things that they could do and some do them half-heartedly. If we want to hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord,” then we need to change our attitude towards using our time and abilities in serving our Lord. We need to be motivated to get started. Without being filled with the desire to serve, any abilities we have to serve will never be used. We must work at making sure our attitude is right, that we love our God and are so thankful for the beautiful world He has given us, His guidance and care in our lives and the opportunity for salvation and eternal life in the kingdom, and then we will be motivated to use our God-given abilities to serve Him.

Paul exhorts us saying, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus”: Jesus had more ability than any man who has ever lived, but it was his attitude rather than his aptitude that caused him to make the supreme sacrifice he did for us. We want to cultivate the same attitude that our Lord Jesus Christ had – he selflessly dedicated himself to serving his God and taking care of the needs of others. He had unlimited ability and supernatural powers, and he used them, not to serve himself but to serve others. When Jesus was tired and hungry, he preached to the woman at the well in Samaria. When the news came about the death of John the Baptist, the disciples went off to mourn quietly, while Jesus, instead of sending the people away, had compassion on them and spent the day teaching a multitude. When the disciples were arguing among themselves as to who was the greatest, Jesus got down on his knees in front of them and washed their feet. At the time Jesus was facing death by crucifixion and while he was suffering, he was thinking of others rather than himself, and made sure the apostles escaped arrest and that his mother was looked after. Peter tells us, “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God”.

God is looking for this attitude in us. Do we think about serving God before we think about serving ourselves? Do we put the needs of others over our own wants and needs? Do we, as Paul exhorted, consider others better than ourselves? Obviously there was no one alive who was better than Jesus was, but he did not think about what he wanted but what was the will of God and what was best for his followers. Even when Jesus had not eaten for forty days and forty nights and he was starving, he would not do a miracle to satisfy his own needs; yet, when he saw the multitude who had missed only a few meals we are told that he had compassion on them and fed them lest they should go away faint. Human nature tends to think first of itself, but the Lord’s teaching is to think first of what God would have us to do, to care for our brethren and sisters and to forget our own wants and desires. This approach goes against all that is natural, but just doing what feels natural is living like animals and not as brethren and sisters of the Lord.

Paul tells us “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh”. Our own affections and lusts must be put down so that we can serve God and serve others. Let us make sure that we have done so, that we are filled with zeal and the motivation to use our abilities to serve our God and care for others. Remember Paul’s instructions: “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others”. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.