How are you at keeping your focus?
I learned early in life that to be single-minded is critical if you want to get somewhere or become something. Multiple choices, an entitlement mind-set of today’s culture, and the fast pace changes of life are often barriers, threatening our pursuit(s).
Many of us have also learned the reality of “burnout,” the “tyranny of the urgent,” the danger of self-doubt, not to mention the armchair critics that seem to emerge to throw water on any ideas or adventures we acknowledge. It seems that many of us have been “discipled” by feedback from friends and family and we ultimately yield to the naysayers rather than move “full steam ahead” in spite of those who don’t agree with our aspirations and dreams.
Fortunately I was raised in a family that encouraged me to pursue my lofty aspirations. It started in junior high when I dreamed of winning an Olympic gold medal in wrestling, becoming an NFL linebacker, and/or becoming a major league baseball catcher and the first at that position to get 3,000 hits and make it into the Baseball Hall of Fame. It meant I sacrificed some stuff like hanging out with friends and dating girls (which was awkward for me, even though I did attend the prom in my junior year of high school – thanks Evelyn).
My folks said the remedy for not losing focus was to set wise goals and push aside things that may distract, discourage, or dissuade. When I became a follower of Jesus late in college, I came across the Book of Proverbs and realized my parents were on to something. Proverbs 15:21 says, “Folly delights a man who lacks judgment, but a man of understanding keeps a straight course.” Looking back, I can agree that in order to accomplish anything, we must give up other things. It can be difficult to pursue (and if necessary) defend a path you wish to pursue, but it is possible.
Read Mark 10:46-52.
A blind man named Bartimaeus heard Jesus was passing by and yelled out to him for mercy. Many told him to give up his request but Jesus stopped when he heard him and asked him what he wanted. The same crowd of skeptics appeared to respond by saying, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you” (v 49). Bartimaeus jumped to his feet, came to Jesus and said he wanted to see. Jesus healed him and he started following him. I wonder if the skeptics and cynics did too?
We can learn from Bartimaeus. The circle of people we hang out with often tries to beats us down into submission. I was told not to pursue my dreams of gold medals and athletic achievement. A black friend of mine told me his friends told him not to go to college or he would become an uncle Tom and desert the “neighborhood of lackluster living, dropouts, and single women who got pregnant by irresponsible young men.” He broke out and emerged a better man.
God’s call for us to be made right with Him through Christ can put us on a path to flourish as he intends. It is possible to live a focused life amidst the blurriness of today’s noisy world. God has gifted and called each of us to fruitfulness and significance. It will start with renouncing all of your ambiguity and “good goals” for God’s will in Jesus. Once you are centered in and on Christ, you will be empowered for the purpose for which your gifts were given to you. Walk wisely. Jesus is asking you to go straight for the goal for which he calls you.
Love is a verb,
©2015 by Mike Olejarz