Can I Do Good with a Bad Attitude?

[ 27 ] Comments

by MSKeller

I have a testimony of the gospel and of my Savior, and I believe in doing what’s right. Really, I’m a pretty good person (of course with a few flaws). Now and again I run out of gas and just get tired. It feels as though there is always something to be done, and too much is difficult.

I don’t WANT to serve my neighbor.  I don’t WANT to do one more thing without grumbling.  I don’t WANT to magnify my calling.  I do it anyway (usually).  Does it matter that I don’t feel like it?

Does it count if I do something good, with a bad attitude, or does it just negate the goodness?

About MSKeller

Marsha Steed Keller (Th'Muse) "When I get a little money, I buy books, if there is any left, I buy food and clothes." --Desiderius Erasmus. This defines a part of Marsha's psychology and intent fairly well. When she was a child she says that people asked what super-power she would desire. She replied, "To know what is true, always." It hasn't changed much since then. Marsha cares more about intent than result; more about understanding than agreement and more about good questions than finding all the answers. She defines her best blessings as people (Family and Friends), ideas and beauty. She is highly visual, teaches voice and piano and enjoys her Life/Relationship coaching immensely. She has a BA in Psychology and an AA in Ballroom Dance. Life is an adventure to be lived in the moment and shared with the world. She considers being asked to write with this amazing group a high honor.

27 Responses to Can I Do Good with a Bad Attitude?

  1. Liz C says:

    Sure you can! There are still blessings related to obedience, even if the obedience is a little grudging. One of those blessings may be a softened, lightened heart. I’m kind of counting on it for myself, actually.

    I think we feel our blessings more fully when we’re doing good things with a good heart/attitude.

    • MSKeller says:

      I like that, “We feel our blessings more fully” – So, occasionally, if we don’t have it ‘there’ mentally, it is OK, we’ll just not get all the blessings this time around.

  2. David says:

    I believe that the way we learn to love others is through service.

    I do not think that we are expected to be able to do everything all the time, just as we are not expected to walk faster the than we are able.

    I feel there will always be blessings as we strive to do our best, no matter what that level is.

    Many times, if we can just act on faith, we are able to appreciate the opportunities, and see God’s hand in our lives.

    • MSKeller says:

      I like that David, act on faith. I think you are so right, we LEARN to love others through service, so the first few times we may not feel it, but as we continue, it grows as we grow. Makes me feel better. Our ‘Best’ on one day, just might not be our best on another right?

  3. Ramona Gordy says:

    I have often wondered what constitutes a “bad attitude” when it comes to those concerns you have mentioned. Because at times I know my attitude isn’t the best, but where does this come from? If we find our selves in situations like callings where we strive to do our best, but we are human so we step back and get cranky, we may judge, or we may compare ourselves with others, we become overwhelmed. I have asked myself, does the Father appreciate what I have done up unto this point? I ask,” What is expected of me, and if I have a bad moment, where I am not feeling very charitable, then can you help me to work out the details?”
    Maybe I need someone to come to my aid,and afterward, maybe my strength will be renewed to forge ahead. For my own self, I struggle, but when I find myself going over the deep end, I realize that this is just where the adversary wants me to be. Most of the time I realize that it’s pride. See, I want to be “swallowed up in the joy of the service of the Lord”. It’s a process . I realize it’s not a “bad attitude”, but I know that when I am feeling this way, I pray about it.

    • Liz C says:

      Ramona, your comment reminded me of something: a lot of times, when I’m in those “bad attitude” moments, it’s really discouragement. And I wonder if the discouragement in doing good things is one way the adversary uses to distract us and frustrate the work God wants us to do? It’s certainly powerful and potent… repeated frustrations and discouragement can lead us to entirely give up, for instance, and languish. Prayer is a great aid.

      • MSKeller says:

        You know Liz, that is very true also, the reason I didn’t like that calling, is that I don’t feel adequate in it. (B’sides it being physically painful) that makes a huge difference.

    • MSKeller says:

      That is true, a lot of that feeling comes from serving in a calling (that I’ve served in multiple times in my life) “one more time.” I did it, but honestly I never did grow to love it. I guess I just wanted a little validation that even being willing when I don-wanna! is a degree of goodness. I think there is a scripture that says something about and evil man giving good gifts being useless. Perhaps that is partly where my angst stems from. Some days I have full purpose of heart, but other days, I just can’t make myself go outside of myself and my comfortzone one more time, you know?

  4. Karen says:

    I’ve heard it said that when you don’t feel like praying, that is the very time you should pray and pray until you do feel like praying. Sometimes I think that the same goes for service. Giving service heals the heart. You may start grudgingly but before long the work just kind of works the grudge right out and you begin to feel the spirit. If you only do good, when you feel good about it, I believe that the desire to do good may come less and less because it becomes easier to get out of it. I don’t know if I’m making any sense, but what I’m trying to say is “Yes, do good until you feel good!” Fake it til you make it.

    • Liz C says:

      Karen, I really like this: “… before long the work just kind of works the grudge right out.” I want it embroidered on a pillow. 🙂 Great thought!

    • MSKeller says:

      I’ve heard that too. Once in awhile I heed it. Not always I’m afraid. When I do however, of course it helps immensely. “Works the grudge right out” – That is fun. Reminds me of the song from South Pacific “I’m gonna wash that grudge right outta my hair!” (Ok, I used a little creative editing.)

      That is very true, sort of like being ‘in love’. If you only do loving things when you are FEELING it. . . pretty soon you’ll stop, because that feeling doesn’t last forever. If however you KEEP doing the loving things even when you aren’t feeling it, the feelings swell. Good call. Definitely made sense.

  5. Ray says:

    Yes, people can do good with a bad attitude. They also can do good for bad reasons / motivations. They even can be rewarded for the good they do with a bad attitude and/or bad reasons / motivations.

    I find it interesting that when Jesus talked of people who acted “to be seen of men” he didn’t say they would not be rewarded; rather, he said, “They have their reward.”

    I interpret that to mean that people generally get what they want from their actions (in the “best case scenario”). If they do it for public recognition and/or praise, they will act in such a way that they get public recognition and/or praise; if they want financial gain, they will act in such a way to get financial gain; if they want a changed character (repentance), they will act in such a way to become a new creature (in Christ, in our case).

    I don’t think “being rewarded” is the issue. I think the nature of the reward is key.

    • MSKeller says:

      I think you hit on something. It isn’t so terrible if it is for a good reason (to be obedient) even though I don’t have my heart in it, but still do it. Quite a different thing if I do good to get gain, or to manipulate or even falsify.

      I appreciate that Ray, I think you are very right. You get what you really want.

    • Bonnie says:

      Love this Ray. Very succinctly put. I had an epiphany some years ago that God is very kind. He will give us what we truly want. I watched someone who had always wanted to have enough money to be secure, who didn’t really have any control over that in her life, but who received that, surely enough. I began looking around and saw that when we don’t get something we think we want, often we want something else more, and we DO get that. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to see that the thing we got was the thing that we really did want the most. Your spin on this is brilliant; the nature of the reward truly is key. This helps explain some really cross-purposed issues I see in my daily life and sheds a whole new light on them. We rarely just want one thing, and we often do the wrong thing to get the thing we really want because we have hidden goals. Very interesting. I’ll be thinking about this for a while.

      • MSKeller says:

        and . . . isn’t that exactly why we have this discussion area? How uplifting and interesting it is to be amongst folks who actually think about things and share. Thank you.

    • Paul says:

      I was thinking along this line, too, Ray (which means you must be right…) 🙂

      Those who do good with nefarious motivations receive a different reward for the “good” they do.

      Further, for most of us, we often develop the good attitude in the course of doing. And the Savior, I believe, forsaw that human trait when he said that if we do His will, we’ll learn if the Savior is teaching of himself or his Father.

  6. Sonja says:

    I think that we are blessed in abundance at the times we are being obedient with a bad attitude. It is so much easier to be obedient when we are feeling up to it. It goes against nature to do it when we want to do anything but. The Lord knows this, and in addition to blessing our obedience, He slowly softens our heart.

    • MSKeller says:

      Hummmm, I never thought of it that way Sonja. I think you are right, and I’ll share just a little of what happened that day that I asked this question (that subsequently landed here) I wrote this in my journal. Thank you for that.

      — Yesterday(several days ago actually now) I posted a snarky comment about if I do good with a bad attitude, does it count. I was feeling rather snarky/irritable all day long. I have some challenges and was feeling rather unheard and unnoticed by Heaven even though I feel I am trying my best. It was our day to serve in the temple, and honestly, I didn’t want to go. I wasn’t in the mood, I don’t fit in my dress, and I just didn’t want to do it. Hence the post. But. . .as is my nature. . .I went anyway. My husband even noticed I was rather irritable and on edge. Of course, once you get there, you feel better. Still, I wasn’t feeling it.

      I went to put on my clothes, and here is a lovely imagery for you. . .I was dressing behind a curtain, not a regular doored room. While trying to take off my boot, I got slightly off balance, and half-dressed with one boot on and one boot off, I reached for the wall I thought was close enough for support to keep me from a tumble, and yes. . . . found only a curtain. So I tumbled through the curtain, twisting and grasping for something to keep me upright to little avail. Luckily the two other sisters had just left the room.

      So, to top off my snarky bad attitude, I was now half-dressed and flushed (I didn’t hit the floor, but quite nearly!) and tangled in the curtain that gratefully I didn’t pull down. I laughed at myself (Probably because there was no one to see it!) and finished shakily getting dressed. Well. . . after 30+ years of use, my leather temple shoes literally fell to pieces when I put them on. They were fine last time I wore them. I can not afford new ones, and there just isn’t anything left to even glue them to.

      I determined to slosh around in them, barely keeping them on my feet as I went to the laundry to see if there was a pair I could borrow. (Ours is a small temple without clothing to loan perse) The nice lady took me downstairs and looked through the lost and found to no avail. Nothing in my size and only the slipper-type that I dislike (As cleaning supervisor, there is a lot of standing/ walking and they hurt my feet after a couple hours) – I figured I’d just have to walk around in socks. “Wait there is one more place I can check”: Then she went to the ‘donations’ closet. – There right on top was a shoe box. Brand new – size seven. “It looks like these were donated for you!” She said since they were a donation, I could have them. Brand new shoes, in my size.

      The Lord is in the details of our lives. Even when we aren’t feeling the right attitude, and serve anyway, he gives us More. He offers us the whisper that He knows us, knows our needs and will take care of them, just as the lilies of the field.

  7. Jim says:

    I’m really glad that I found this blog yesterday and have thoroughly enjoyed a few of the posts and the many great comments. I try to only keep up with a select few blogs these days but have a feeling that I’ll be visiting here often.

    It is not unusual for me to dread things (like early morning meetings) and to feel a little guilty about not wanting to go or do. I’m not always crazy about home teaching and many other things that we are asked to do. I don’t always do everything that I should, and what I do is not always with the right attitude. But, for me anyway, the dreading is always the worst part. Once I actually get to the meeting, the visit, etc., it is almost always a great experience that leaves me feeling uplifted and blessed. I guess it is human nature to resist doing certain things even that we know are good, and hopefully in time and through the Atonement we are becoming saints and willingly and joyfully do all that is good. I’m not there yet, not by a long shot.

    It is significant that we are judged not just by the things that we say and do but also according to the desire of our hearts.

    I also think that motives are complex and usually multi-faceted. Although we might dread certain responsibilities, I think our desire to be obedient often prevails, and we end up doing what we know we should. Even then, if we dissect the reasons that we obey, for me at least, it is often mostly out of duty and a feeling that others are depending on me. These are not bad motives, but some day I hope that I am motivated more by my desire to serve God and to love my fellow man and that duty will be secondary to this.

    I loved the experience you had with the shoes in the temple. What a great reminder that Heavenly Father knows you and is taking care of you. I am sure that seemingly little things like this happen to me, yet I usually fail to notice. I hope to have eyes to see them more clearly.

    • MSKeller says:

      So SOOO true Jim. ” But, for me anyway, the dreading is always the worst part.” – I found that in that very thing that prompted this question. It is getting out the door that is the biggest hurdle. Usually. As I’ve mentioned otherwhere, I have had a calling that I dreaded every day of the duration unfortunately. This made me feel a bit better, “. Although we might dread certain responsibilities, I think our desire to be obedient often prevails,” – Yes, I was willing to do it as long as I was needed, but I nearly shouted when someone else moved in who could!

      Glad you are here!

      “It is significant that we are judged not just by the things that we say and do but also according to the desire of our hearts.” – I guess that is what both comforts me, and makes me guilty.

      “some day I hope that I am motivated more by my desire to serve God and to love my fellow man and that duty will be secondary to this.” – I think that is where I am too.

      Just yesterday I prayed for something that has been a problem since Nov. . . received an odd (to me) answer, but did it, and today? Problem solved. He is in the details isn’t He?

      • Liz C says:

        Quick validation on the dreading… my husband has recently started attending church, and Saturday, he was debating… it’s so early… gotta get up and get going… so early… and then he stopped himself and said, “But I really like how I’ve felt once I get my buns in the pew. I’m going. The end.” And knowing him, it really is the final, deciding time he’ll debate getting out of bed to get his buns in the pew. He’s really staunch in his decisions!

        Very cool that the odd answer is the one that answered the prayer! I love that!!

  8. Liz C says:

    I had another thought on this topic. I wonder if the brain-refrain of “I’ve got a cruddy attitude about this. It would be better if I just didn’t even bother, because I’m so not in the “right” frame of mind/heart!” is simply one more lie from the adversary. If he can convince us that nothing less than a perfect heart will do, he can easily get us to give up trying if we’re not “perfect” that day.

  9. Becky L. Rose says:

    Fake it till ya make it!

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