We’re approaching my favorite season…summer. Times like now remind me why I love living in Chicago. Festivals, biking, movies in the park, BBQs, exercising outside, boat cruises, and the list goes on. There definitely isn’t a shortage of things to do in this city.
Needless to say, at times, summertimechi, can be a little distracting. I’ve got a couple of personal projects I’m working on, and let me tell you, the struggle to focus is real. A perfect example is today’s episode. Y’all, this is my last day off from a lovely long five-day weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, but nothing went according to my original plan.
I told myself no problem, you’ve got 5 days off. But, I kid you not; something that needed my attention came up whenever I got ready to work on this episode. So, I typed up some of my outline for this episode, checked my email, and somehow, I ended up looking at a video on YouTube. Like that whole process wasted 30 minutes of my time.
I started with the best intentions. I stopped paying attention to my goal, got distracted, and lost track of time. Now, I realize that the situation I shared isn’t life or death, but that whole process I just described is why so many people in this world have yet to discover their purpose.
They approach life with the best intentions, but then they get distracted, and before they know it, it’s twenty years later, and they’re wondering, “Where did the time go?” My worst fear is leaving this world without discovering God’s plans for me. The sad thing is this can quickly happen if we allow ourselves to get distracted by technology, jobs, family/friends, what if or I wonder games, finances, and recreation. For example, let’s start with technology
I’m grateful that we live in this era. I have friendships that wouldn’t exist if I didn’t Skype. Likewise, this podcast wouldn’t exist without technology. Technology is constantly changing and can make our lives easier.
However, if you’re not careful, you may feel compelled to keep learning every new software that hits the market to keep up. For example, if I buy or learn software ABC, I can accomplish XYZ. I’m not saying to get complacent, but you gotta keep your desire to be up on the latest and greatest technology in balance because that is a race you will never win. That’s a cycle that can go on forever. If we allocate more time to God instead of chasing after the latest tech trend, as He promised in James 1:5, God will give us the wisdom to leverage or learn new skills and resources.
The issue is that many of us possess the mindset to keep amassing more and more knowledge about technology because of our jobs. This brings me to another distraction our jobs.
From an early age, we’re told to get good grades to go to college, where we’re conditioned to be great employees, not leaders. Sadly, so many people will spend their lives climbing the corporate ladder only to learn later that their ladder is leaning against the wrong wall. Regardless of your knowledge, most of your success in the corporate world depends on who you know, not what you know.
If you’re not careful, this desire to be liked can cause you to delay or completely miss out on your destiny. For example, Saul. Saul had one action to perform (1 Samuel 15). He was to kill the Amalekites and destroy everything they possessed. However, Saul decided not to follow God’s instructions. Saul decided to save the King Agag who reigned over the Amalekites, and all the best animals.
Saul allowed people–King of Amalekites and his army–to persuade him to disobey God. It’s even more strange that Saul felt compelled to save King Agag. You would think Saul would have killed him first because he would have viewed King Agag as a threat. Yet, King Agag somehow impressed Saul so much that Saul spared his life. That had to be one heck of a conversation!
While Saul’s chatting it up with his friend King Agag, Saul’s army starts to doubt Saul’s instructions because Saul’s leadership skills are missing in action. I’m sure Saul’s army was looking at all the nice things the Amalekites possessed and started to complain. “Saul, are you sure that you heard God right? We’re cool with getting rid of the people, but there’s no way God would want us to destroy these animals.” I’m sure the army was thinking about how they could use their newfound wealth.
Saul didn’t want to rock the boat. He tried to maintain prestigious in the eyes of his men, not God. God was not pleased, and Saul lost his chance to reign as King of the Israelites, an honor that ended up going to David. As a leader, Saul should have known better than to disobey God. He would never tolerate that behavior from his army. Saul would expect them to obey his command. Yet, he chose to ignore God’s command because he succumbed to peer pressure and his desire to please people, influencing his decision to disobey God. We can never allow our desire to be popular to happen at the expense of disobeying God. Without a doubt, this is even more difficult when it comes to friends and family.
- Family / Friends
Our relationships with our friends and family can be a complicated one. If someone isn’t living up to their title of mom, dad, brother, sister, or friend, you have to let them go. The only people who should be in your life are those who add value. Otherwise, you’re adding unnecessary drama to your life and then have the nerve to blame God. God gives us free will. God can’t make moves in your life until you show Him with your actions that you’re willing to step out in faith.
Sometimes, we allow our strong desire to be loved to place us in positions whereby we’re willing to accept them treating us like a doormat, which prevents us from seeking God’s help to get us to our destiny.
For example, let’s look at Leah. Check out Gen 29. Leah’s focus was completely wrong. She kept trying to get Jacob to love her. She focused on getting Jacob to love her by having more and more kids. Leah then failed to take the opportunity to raise kids those kids and work on building up her relationship with God. She didn’t make lemonade out of her lemons. Her striving to achieve the unattainable–Jacob’s love–prevented her from experiencing peace and not taking advantage of her situation to grow in grace.
Then, there are times when we know our family is no good and not worth being loyal to but we feel compelled to stay even if it costs us our life. You can read about this in Genesis 19, but Lot’s wife is a perfect example. The angels of the Lord told Lot that Sodom and Gomorrah would be destroyed. The angels told Lot and his family that this was happening and not to look behind them and run toward the mountains. Instead, lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. Without a doubt, I’m sure she looked back because she was hurt because many of their family members were left behind.
This is a classic example of not being able to take everyone on your journey. Lot’s wife forfeited her opportunity to experience a brighter future because she wasn’t willing to let go of her past. Although her family didn’t respect her and Lot enough to join them in their escape, she felt an allegiance to mourn their decision by disobeying God and looking back. Lot’s wife was probably playing what I call the What if, I Wonder game, another distraction that can keep us from being content.
- What if / I Wonder Games
Have you ever found yourself saying, “What if this or that happens?” or “I wonder if ABC happens, what does this mean for XYZ? This is what I mean by What If or I Wonder games. We think that worrying about the future means we’re being productive when it’s the opposite. We’re so busy preparing for the future that we rob ourselves of the opportunity to enjoy our time in the present. If you’re putting God first, like He says in Ps 37:4, then you know why God tells you not to worry in Matt 6:25-33. Regardless of what happens, as He said in Rom 8:28, He will cause everything to work together for our good. Trust me; I know this can be easier said than done, especially regarding our finances, which is next on our list of distractions.
We live in a very materialistic world. Some people will do anything to make or keep money. They don’t care who they must lie to increase their bank account. They are willing to do so even if it means giving up their chance to follow God.
This is exactly what the Rich Young Ruler did in Mark 10:17-27. He asked Jesus what he needed to do to make it to heaven. Jesus told him to sell his possessions and give it to the poor. The Rich Young Ruler walked away sad because he owned a lot of property. For the record, I am NOT telling you to sell everything to follow Jesus. He doesn’t need your money. I believe Jesus told the Rich Young Ruler this because Jesus knew greed was a major sin that needed to be addressed in his life.
The silly thing about this mindset is that when you are so focused on the resource (money), you fail to realize it’s pointless if it’s gained independently of the Source (God). You can get rich independently of God using Satan’s lying, cheating, and stealing tactics, but that money will be cursed. In fact, in Haggai 1:6, God says, “ …you earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” You may gain it, but you’ll lose it just as fast.
I’m sure we all know people or have heard stories about celebrities that can attest to the validity of Haggai 1:6. One of the main ways these folks squander their finances is by spending too much time having fun and not enough time working, which brings us to our last distraction on the list recreation.
Listen, I subscribe to the work hard, play hard mindset. I like to have fun. However, I will only do so by getting my job done first. Too many people want to reap benefits without working to achieve them. They just want to play all day long, not realizing that this will come back to haunt them.
Samson is a perfect example of someone who did not take anything seriously. You can read about his life in Judges 14 to 16. He was always playing around with fire. He was big on riddles and tricking people from an early age.
Samson played with fire, and he got burned. Today’s fires may occur by spending too much time on social media, watching or participating in activities we know are wrong, and the list goes on, all because we want to have fun. However, we must remember that if we’re doing anything that goes against God’s word, it’s not worth it. You will always lose.
The six distractions we discussed will, without a doubt, keep you from discovering God’s purpose for you. If any of these resonate with you, please do yourself a favor and own up to it. Don’t make excuses for your behavior. This wastes precious time and energy that can be channeled towards reducing the time it takes to resolve your issue and get back in God’s grace. Remember, our life is like a vapor. We’re here today and gone tomorrow.
What will be your impact on God’s Kingdom? What will your role be in making this world a little bit brighter because you were here? God communicates with us in a variety of ways. Sometimes, He may do so via a whisper. Regardless of how He chooses to do so, don’t allow the distractions in your life to place you in a position that prevents you from hearing the plans He has in store for you.
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Episodes/ articles mentioned in today’s episode:
- James 1: 5
- 1 Samuel 15
- Genesis 19
- Ps 37:4
- Matt 6: 25-33
- Rom 8:28
- Mark 10:17- 27
- Haggai 1:6
- Judges 14 to 16
- Episodes 197, 198, 199, and 201
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