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Attitude Problem?

The importance of a positive attitude

by Revd Guy Donegan-Cross (revised, originally published in 2006)

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

To consider that a positive attitude can be transformative.

Preparation and materials

Assembly

  1. Ask the students to raise their hand if they have ever visited St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

    Show the images of St Paul’s Cathedral.

    Comment on the building, pointing out that it was a marvel of its time, designed by Sir Christopher Wren in the seventeenth century.

  2. Explain that you want to tell the students about three workers who were involved in the building of St Paul’s.

    A writer decided to interview some of the workers because the construction of the magnificent cathedral was under the supervision of the noted English architect Sir Christopher Wren, so he thought it would be interesting to hear their thoughts. The writer chose three of them and asked them, ‘What are you doing?’

    The first worker replied, ‘Im cutting stone for ten shillings a day.’
    The second answered, ‘Im putting in ten hours a day on this job.’
    However, the third said, ‘Im helping Sir Christopher Wren to construct one of Londons greatest cathedrals.’

  3. Ask the students, What was different about the third worker?

    Pause to allow time for thought.

    Elicit the fact that he had a much more positive attitude and go on to explain that attitude can change anything.

  4. Tell the following story as dramatically as possible.

    A man was walking along a country road when he spied a farmer. He approached him and said, ‘Sir, I have travelled a long way and am thinking of settling in the next town. Tell me, what kind of people are there?’

    The farmer asked, ‘What kind of people were in the town that you left?’

    The man replied, ‘Oh, it wasn’t so good. The people there were selfish and indifferent, just out for themselves. Couldn’t care less about you or what happened.’

    The farmer said, ‘You’ll find the same kind of folks in the next town.’ The man thanked him and went in another direction.

    Later that day, another traveller passed by and said to the farmer, ‘Sir, I have travelled a long way and am thinking of settling in the next town. Tell me, what kind of people are there?’

    The farmer asked, ‘What kind of people were in the town that you left?’

    The woman replied, ‘It was hard to leave. The people rejoiced with you in the good times and helped you in the bad times. It wasn’t perfect, but the people were basically good and friendly.’

    The farmer said, ‘You’ll find the same kind of folks in the next town.’

  5. Emphasize that the second traveller’s attitude indicated a much more positive outlook. She was likely to be happy whichever town she went to!

Time for reflection

Ask the students to consider the third worker at St Paul’s Cathedral. This worker saw the bigger picture. He knew that although the job that he was doing might appear insignificant to many, every little job was important in the great work of building the cathedral.

Encourage the students to think about the importance of every little thing in which they are involved. Their small actions can make a big difference.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Ask the students to consider the second traveller who spoke to the farmer in the story. Her positive attitude meant that she was far more likely to be happy, and that those around her would be happy, too.

Encourage the students to think about their own attitudes. Encourage them to look for the good in situations and to be positive influences wherever they are.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Prayer
Dear God,
Help us to have good attitudes.
Help us to encourage others.
Help us to look for the good in every situation.
Help us to bring hope, joy and peace to other people.
Help us to be grateful for all we have.
Amen.

Publication date: December 2019   (Vol.21 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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