When I created a Twitter account two years ago I was immediately overwhelmed by the various interests one could follow. I could follow athletes like Ryan Hall and other runners or I could follow Oakland A’s fans and popular sports casters or I could follow Mumford & Sons and other musical artists. Today thousands of topics fuel the Twitter board. It’s so easy to connect with others because almost anyone can find a blog on their favorite hobby or watch a YouTube video on the newest instrument of choice. If you’re anything like me, your Twitter feed can become overwhelming with so many different topics; and just like our social interests, our hearts sometimes feel overwhelming in the same way.
At many times in my life, I have tried to take on three or more areas of my heart at a time with little success. In those times, instead of championing a radical life change, I ended up losing faith and energy from feeling spread in so many directions. One word that has continually drawn my attention in conversation and bible study is focus. The New Testament disciples were inspiring because of their ability to remain focused on their purpose.
One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus: we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.
Without a focus, the energy we channel to changing each area of our heart will be limited. Take a look at these three steps for staying focused.
Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.
Proverbs 4:25 NIV
Rather than ask what is distracting you today, I want to ask what good are you compelled to do today? Maybe there are different sins you want to overcome, maybe you want to do better in school this semester, or maybe you want to get closer to one of your friends. Pick one that you will take on specifically (read also Philippians 4:11-13).
What smaller goals will help you accomplish your ultimate goal?
What distractions might stop you from looking forward?
Focus on God
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV
Jesus’ death on the cross is the ultimate example of love (read also Psalm 141:8). His love for us kept him focused on his purpose. His ability to overcome persecution, doubt, loneliness, and death can give us the faith to overcome any area of our heart.
What help do you need from God in order to remain focused? Will you ask Him?
Make It Great
Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.
1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (NLT)
To become great you must train. Follow the practicals below to begin training. If we stay focused on our goal, we will be able to remain disciplined despite obstacles.
- Pick one area of your heart that you really want to change (a conviction, a quality of God, a relationship). Decide that for four weeks you will continually address that area through bible study, conversations, prayer, and repentance.
- Study out Paul and how he taught other disciples by reading the books 1 & 2 Thessalonians and continue reading through the Book of James. Take note of how Paul could have been distracted by so many things—persecution, the stresses of leadership, feelings of loneliness, his past—yet was never deterred. He was a man of focus.