Recently my wife and I took an optional safe-driver online class to qualify for a lower rate on our auto insurance. One of the principles highlighted in this class was the concept of focus. The idea behind this is that a car will tend to go in the direction that we fix our vision.
I think the same is true of my own spiritual journey. The person or thing I fix my spiritual and mental attention on will influence the direction of my life. This can have either good or bad implications, depending on where my attention is focused.
The only true and healthy focus for believers is Jesus Christ. The author of Hebrews got right to the point:
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
C.S. Lewis put it this way:
“Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.”
There are many distractions that can veer us off course spiritually and in our worship time with God. Here are just a few:
- Being more focused on peripheral, human performance and elements than on God when you gather with other believers to worship Him.
- Being more concerned with how you look in the eyes of other people than being aware of God’s greatness and our utter dependence on Him for life and salvation.
- Giving mental energy and time to a temptation that will eventually turn into ugly and destructive choices.
- Fleeting inattention or inappropriate thoughts that steal us away from the only One who can truly satisfy the deepest desires of our heart.
Rather than focusing on the things most of us already know can derail us, try changing your focus. Here are three simple tools I have found valuable in maintaining my focus on Jesus.
Prayer – First, recognize that we are blind and powerless apart from God to deal with the distractions and pitfalls that entice us (see Romans 7). We are flawed human beings who need God’s grace and power in the very center and fabric of our being to live a healthy spiritual life and effectively serve Him in any ministry capacity. Ask God for help. The Holy Spirit is more than able to redeem our thoughts and fill us with God-given power.
Daily Time – Another key to maintaining healthy spiritual focus is to stay in dynamic, authentic relationship with God. This isn’t rocket science, but it is foundational! For me, this means making a decision of my will each day to come before and spend time with God, grow in Him and His Word, and yield to Him. “Taking every thought captive” to God (see 2 Corinthians 10:5) requires that I am letting God have His way in me throughout the minutes and hours of each day. Daily, honest confession and repentance is also essential to this relationship.
Trusted Counsel – Give permission to one or two trusted and mature Christians whom you respect to mirror what they see happening in you. This is important not only for better focus and accountability but also for encouragement during the bumps and bruises of ministry. Obviously these people need to be safe, spiritually healthy believers. I regularly meet with three guys who know me well and have demonstrated their spiritual integrity and trustworthiness. I know their comments will honestly and lovingly reflect back what they see happening in me so that I can be even more focused on Jesus and available for Him to use for His Kingdom.
In an age that offers so many distractions that can lead us to get off God’s intended path for our life, it’s important to keep our hearts and minds fixed on Jesus.
© 2015 Christopher J. Atkins. Used by permission.