Yesterday I listed my 7 Pet Peeves about Worship Music in Church. Great discussion in the comments!

But afterwards it occurs to me that I should have added an eighth:

8. People who criticize the praise team leader/sound man/pastor constantly, and blame them for their inability to worship.

If you can’t worship, it isn’t anyone else’s fault. It’s yours.

Yes, there are things that the praise team leader can do to help get rid of the distractions and facilitate you focusing on God (which is the main job of a praise team leader), but we are ultimately responsible for our hearts. Our attitudes matter.

And one of the most important attitudes we can have is praise & gratitude. That’s why songs that focus on who God is, and not just our response to Him, are so important in my view, because when we are reminded anew what an amazing God we serve, often the cares and concerns of the day melt away, and we’re more ready to listen to the message and learn something new from God today. We’re more ready to worship by listening. That’s part of what I was trying to get at yesterday, which some people said was wrong, because worship isn’t about preparing hearts to listen; it’s just about worship. I know what you’re saying, but there is a principle which I think is key:

Whatever you focus on expands.

When we focus on God, He expands. When we focus on distractions, or problems, they expand. So to me, part of the role of music in a service before the sermon is to help us focus on God, because that gets our attitude right so that we’re more prepared to listen. That’s why, when we do our devotions, we start with praise, rather than a list of prayer requests. That’s why, when we pray, we start by focusing on who He is, not what we need from Him. It’s about attitude.

'Dreamy LuAnne' photo (c) 2008, Andy - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

And, if I can shift gears here, that’s why gratitude can transform a marriage. When we focus on what we’re angry with our husbands about, and all the things that they aren’t doing, then our marriage will be lousy. When we focus instead on what we love about our husbands, that is what we will tend to think about, and our attitudes will change.

Sometimes, when women email me about marriage issues, they list so many things wrong with the marriage that I’m tempted to say, “It’s hopeless!” If you look at only what they wrote, it looks very bleak indeed. But I often find myself asking, “is there really NOTHING good you can say about him? Is there really NOTHING that he does that’s right?”  Often we focus so much on the negative, and we spend so much emotional energy trying to “fix” problems, that we become very negative and judgmental ourselves. And then we make those troubles worse.

I don’t know where you’re at in your marriage right now. I don’t know whether it’s a mess, or it’s going wonderfully, or you’re just getting by. But I do know that the best way to transform your marriage isn’t to figure out a magical “fix” for your husband; it’s to transform our attitude so that we’re first grateful.

PURSEonality_Challenge_AdAnd so I’d like to point you all to a resource that can help you do that. Long time reader Cheri Gregory has a wonderful study starting today, for the month of May, called “The PURSE-onality Challenge”, 31 days of replacing “baditude” with gratitude, using God’s word. You’ll focus on 31 key Scriptures to move into your heart, and you’ll learn more about problem-solving vs. complaining. It’s a great resource for those who want to turn things around, and I highly recommend it!

Cheri helps you to focus on God, not your problems, and you’ll emerge from the week with a better attitude to tackle whatever life throws at you.

And when we’re rooted in Christ, we are so much more effective problem solvers, too, because the Holy Spirit is better able to use us.

So taking a challenge like this does not mean that you let your husband off the hook. It doesn’t mean that you say, “nothing’s wrong, and I’m going to sweep it under the table.” It doesn’t mean that you say, “All the problems in my life are due to me.” Not at all. But it does mean that you are saying, “I am going to change what I can. I am going to take responsibility for my attitude and response. I am going to let God work in me.” And then you’ll be equipped and grounded and better able to see clearly to make the changes that do need to be made.

Do you see the difference?

I encourage all of us to join Cheri for her PURSE-onality Challenge. And today, I also encourage all of us, whether it’s about marriage, or church, or friendships, or committees, or whatever, to think about what we can be grateful for. Make today the day that you pray prayers about gratitude. Text your husband something that you’re grateful for about him. Write someone an encouraging note. Focus on the positive, and you just may find that your outlook becomes far more positive, too.

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