I love used book shops. One of my favorite things to find is a volume of sermons by an English preacher named John Henry Jowett. I love to read Jowett. In a collection of devotional thoughts called “The Eagle Life” Jowett wrote about how contagious our moods can be.
“Our moods are contagious, and they are swiftly contagious. Our words can act upon others like a bugle or they can act like a chilling, drizzling rain; so it is with our moods. Our deeds can be inspiring in leadership, or they can be the ministers of depression; even so it is with out moods.
Who has not recognized the contagious influence of a mood or temperament? For instance, the presence of a pessimist is always unfriendly to great ventures. He may say little or nothing, but his unglowing spirit lays an icy constraint upon everybody. The presence of Mr. Fearing always lowers the moral temperature, and so does that of Mr. Despondence and his daughter Miss Much-afraid. It is not that they say much, for they are often very reticent, but hey rob the atmosphere if its inspiring vitality, and they tend to freeze all the genial currents of the soul.
Who does not know the freezing influence of the Rev. Mr. Fearall whether at a wedding or a funeral? And who does not feel that there is a damp stuff in the fire when he is present, and we are trying to kindle some noble and venturesome enterprise? And who does not know Deacon Flat-soul, as flat as some once lively liquid which has lost its effervescence? What a business it is to keep exuberant when Flat-soul is at the meeting and stays to the very end. These moods are very contagious, and we have to bestir ourselves if we would keep immune.”
Jowett was commenting on this passage in Deuteronomy “What man is there that is fearful and faint-hearted? Let him go and return into his house lest his brethren’s heart melt as his heart.” (Deuteronomy 20:8) I like that quote. It reminds me of the influence I have for good or bad just with my attitude. It helps me see how important it is for me to take responsibility for my attitudes both good and bad. It makes me want to go out and inspire people to worthy, courageous deeds.