Keeping the focus in a world of distractions

1/29/2020

Keeping the focus in a world of distractions
Distracted.
 
The word that keeps consistently recurring and forcing its way to the forefront of my vocabulary at the start of this new year is the word “distracted.”  To be distracted means that the main thing slips out of the place of primary importance, even if only momentarily, as one becomes preoccupied with something else seeking attention. 
 
Everyone faces distraction in one form or another at some level when they are unable to pay full attention or to yield full focus and concentration to something. Distractions come in all shapes and sizes and typically happen when we do not expect or need them to occur. They are a part of life that each of us must deal with every single day, nearly every moment of the day. 
 
We are bombarded by distractions. Some are quick and easily dealt with while others are long term and demanding. They can become so embedded in our lives that we mistakenly normalize the distractions and allow them to control our lives.
 
At this point, 2020, for me, is full of distractions.  I’ve been distracted by personal health concerns, the death of friends and family members, the financial concerns of our Annual Conference and General Church, national and international events that are causing hurt and harm, weather related tragedies, increasing concerns about the future of the United Methodist Church, and the list goes on and on.
 
No one is exempt from distractions! Daily living is filled with challenges that force us to continually make choices that reflect our primary focus.
 
Jesus provided both a challenge and a goal for those seeking to emulate life according to the standards he prescribed for successful living. Jesus advised, “Seek first the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33).
 
Jesus carefully demonstrated for us how to navigate life and ministry without getting permanently side-tracked. His life was anchored by daily spiritual disciplines and he kept his mission at the forefront of his day-to-day schedule. Distractions were normal, but the distractions were not allowed to set the agenda of his life.
 
Jesus was able to “keep the main thing the main thing!” Perhaps we can learn from his example:

  1. He was clear and certain about his calling and his purpose (Luke 4:18).
  2. He had his mind focused on the right priorities (Philippians 2:5).
  3. He was totally submitted to God’s will above his own personal desires and plans (Luke 22:42).
 
The IGRC is a terrific place to live and to engage in ministry.  I am so blessed to be your Bishop.  As one of your spiritual leaders I am determined, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to lift up Jesus and to allow him to have preeminence in my life and ministry.  Let us encourage one another to attend to Christ’s agenda as we navigate the distractions of day-to-day living. 
 
A good friend of mine often says, “You cannot stop the birds from flying over your head, but you don’t have to let them build a nest in your hair.”  Let us focus on the primary task of lifting up the light of the world so that folks in darkness can have hope and know that help is still found in Jesus Christ.  
 
God Bless,
Bishop Beard