the shape of leadership

How to Have a Winning Attitude

The way you think and feel can change the way you lead

Chris Railey on June 2, 2017


Your ship will rise and fall according to the power of your influence as a leader. If you want success in your ministry, family and life, your ability to influence others is critical.

As you read through leadership journals, popular blogs and bestselling books on the subject, you will find a plethora of tips on how to influence others. One frequently repeated point that people often overlook in ministry is the importance of attitude. If your influence determines the rising and falling of the ship you captain, your attitude will determine your own internal and personal motion and motivation.

Attitude is the quickest way to lose influence or the best way to stay in the room. A poor attitude can leave you lonely, pushing others away who have the potential to help you achieve your vision. A poor attitude may lead to infighting and back-biting among your staff as they jockey for position in the leadership vacuum you leave. A poor attitude can also be a sign that your own integrity is cracking.

But a winning attitude can attract friends, followers and other leaders who want to help you achieve your dreams as you help them do the same. A winning attitude can help you strengthen and mature those around you as you also mature through different phases of life and ministry.

A winning attitude is also a sign of a strong relationship with God, who fuels your feelings of hope in Him. A winning attitude is positive, focused on the good in others and the benefits of following the vision God gives you.

A poor attitude or a winning attitude: the choice is yours. There aren’t many things we have complete control over in ministry. But how you think about others, how you feel about the direction the Lord is pointing you, and how you respond to the tough times are all within your power.

You can choose to have a positive attitude or a poor one; it’s up to you. If you choose a winning attitude, you are on your way to becoming a more influential leader.

But what is a winning attitude? What does it look like? Consider how the apostle Paul defined it. Following his instructions will help us achieve a winning attitude when it comes to leadership:

“Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-18).

1. Respect Others

Respect your leaders, peers and followers. Do you demand respect or command it? Often, those who demand it do so because they haven’t done their part to win it from others. When we respect others, they will return that respect to us. To be in command of respect means we give it when it is due (Romans 13:7).

Respecting your followers means giving them a fair wage for the work they’ve done, showing genuine concern for them as individuals, and wishing only the best for them. Respecting your peers means acknowledging the good work they do when they do it, instead of trying to undermine them to gain a position for yourself. Respecting your leaders means always putting them in the best light, regardless of any disagreement you may have for them.

You can choose to have a positive attitude or a poor one; it’s up to you.

These are only a few ways to show respect, but they’re good starting points.

2. Be Patient

Show patience with others, whatever their situation. You may not fully understand or know what they’re going through behind the scenes, so always assume the best about others’ intentions. When people fail at a task or under-perform in a role, be patient. Help them learn from their mistakes instead of tearing them down or demeaning them.

Patience is the key to being a teacher. All people will learn and work at their own pace. As a leader, you set the pace, but you also must watch out for stragglers. Instead of leaving them in your dust, take the time to encourage them.

3. Rejoice Continually

When was the last time you celebrated a win? I hope it was this week. Continual celebration reflects a winning attitude. A leader who celebrates often is a leader others want to follow.

We have so much to rejoice over in ministry! Sure, there are weeks when the work is tough. But take a look at all the wins you see, day in and day out. God is at work in your people. If you can’t find wins, go hunting for them. Find a reason to rejoice, and then celebrate with those around you.

4. Pray Nonstop

Prayer is not the thermometer of your attitude; it’s the thermostat. How much time you spend with the Lord and how much attention you give Him will ultimately determine your attitude. When prayer is a priority, thoughts and feelings follow.

Praying nonstop means we have a continual attitude of prayer. We are constantly cognizant of God’s presence. We don’t just come to Him when there’s a problem, but we always pay attention to where He is leading us. And as we pray for good things, we can look for answers to those prayers throughout each day.

5. Give Thanks

Give thanks in all things. Not just in the wins. Not just in the positives. But in all things, find a way to be grateful for God’s care and provision.

Ministry can be tough. Do you thank God for the challenge? Do you thank Him for making you into a mature Christian and influential leader through the hard lessons you’re learning along the way? Gratitude is the baseline of a winning attitude.

Paul goes on to say that these things are “God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). In other words, it’s through a winning attitude that God can accomplish much in your life. Like any good pastor, Paul is concerned about unity and health in the Body. To that end, he encourages us to hear from God daily and to lean on the One who called us and is faithful.

A winning attitude begins and ends with acknowledging what God will do in you and through you!

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