A passive attitude keeps you where you are--waiting for something to happen

One of the ugly secrets of life is that a passive attitude rarely gets you where you want to go.

For singles, this idleness can be deadly. It puts us in a position of depending on others to make things happen for us and most of the time, that doesn’t work.

In many ways, our society actually encourages us to hang back and do nothing. Government, business, even religion value conformity. Society values control. Assertive people are often branded “troublemakers.”

This docility is especially frustrating for single women, who feel they must wait for a man to make the first move. In most cultures, including the United States, assertive women are considered immoral.

Surprisingly, many single men are also less assertive than they should be, and the reason is simple: fear.

So what can you do if this sounds like you?

Passive attitude: Personality makeover?

Many singles consider themselves naturally shy. They think that's just the way they're wired and that it's a waste of time trying to change their basic personality.

But I think shyness is more a judgment we make of ourselves. Certainly it's true that some of us are more introverted and others are more extroverted, but we often believe there are some things we "just can't do." That's selling yourself short.

The truth is that you don't know until you try. Really determined people not only try, but keep trying until they succeed. Most actors and singers fit into that category. Everybody tells them “no” until one important person sees their potential and tells them “Yes!”

If you want to get married, you have to make that desire more important in your life than the pain of rejection. Overcoming a passive attitude demands a thick skin. You simply have to believe in yourself more than in the naysayers.

Elsewhere on this site, I recount my own battle with shyness, which ended when I started working as a newspaper reporter. I either got over it or lost my job. I got over it. 

You can too.

Stop believing in 'The Rescue'

One factor that encourages a passive attitude is the myth of "The Rescue." This stems from fairy tales we're all taught when we're children.

Women may think a handsome prince is going to come and rescue them from a boring single life. Don't laugh! Millions of women sit home alone, waiting for a knock on the door or the phone to ring (or make some goofy ringtone, I suppose).

Cinderella, Prince Charming, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast and other children's stories give women the wrongheaded notion that a future spouse is going to notice them and sweep them off their feet. Sure, it happens, but if it's not happening, why not help things along?

Benjamin Franklin (not the Bible), said "The Lord helps those who help themselves." Are you helping yourself in whatever area you're not making progress, or are you expecting God to drop whatever you want right into your lap? Yes, God does feed the birds of the air--but they have to go out and FIND their food. He doesn't just tie a little birdie bib on them and drop worms into their open mouths.

If you take only one piece of advice from this web site to heart, here it is: 

No one is coming to rescue you.
Get off your chair and start doing something!

Overcoming cultural boundaries

In cultures where marriages are still arranged, maybe there's not much you can do. But if it's merely considered impolite for women to take the initiative, it might be time to drop the passive attitude. As long as there won't be any criminal penalties, why not ask a man out? The truth is that most men consider it very flattering. Yes, you may get rejected, but men go through that all the time, and it doesn't kill us. In fact, it may help you understand why men are reluctant to ask women out--rejection hurts.

Present yourself in a modest, yet assertive manner. Don't come on like you're easy. A lunch meeting in a public place is safe. Don't act needy or desperate, even if you feel that way. Nothing scares a guy off more.

Be confident. Enjoy yourself, knowing that if nothing happens, you're better for the experience because you had the courage to try.

Even in America, we have many “unwritten rules.” Fortunately those are being broken as young women recognize how foolish some of those rules are. By being polite, a woman can avoid the label of being “pushy.” There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, as long as you don’t mistreat people on your way up.

But shouldn't we 'wait on God'?

You’ll find plenty of verses in the Bible that tell you to wait on God. Christians are supposed to rely on God’s timing, not our own. We’re not supposed to rush ahead foolishly. We’re supposed to pray and wait, wait, wait upon the Lord.

I don’t know about you, but God doesn’t speak to me and say, “Now! The time is right. Go ahead now!”

TV preachers constantly warn us to wait on God’s timing. They cite examples of when God spoke to them and told them to wait. But have you ever noticed that God “speaks” to them all the time? I’ve been listening closely, and believe me, God doesn’t tell me when to do things. I feel I have a close relationship with God, but he doesn’t stand in the wings and give me cues on when I should act.

There's an old saying that makes a lot of sense: 

Even God can't steer a parked car.

I do think we need to wisely prepare, pray for God's guidance, think about our situation, and then take calculated action. As long as our effort is moral and biblical, I think God will either bless it or help us learn from our mistakes. 

Look, you don't catch a fish by waiting for it to jump into your boat. You don't get a job just by reading the ads and never applying and going for an interview. And you don't get the things you want in life with a passive attitude. You just don't.

If it's not working, change what you're doing. Expand your comfort zone. There comes a time when we have to step out in faith.

Jesus never said success is wrong. He did say God should come first in our lives and that we should do unto others as we want them to do unto us. He also said, "Ask, seek, knock." Those verbs are active. Keep asking, seeking, and knocking until something good happens! Determination. Perseverance. Action.

Get rid of your passive attitude this year, begin stepping out in faith, and keep doing it until good things happen.  

Return to top of passive attitude