What You Looking At?
Why giving God our focused attention is vital.
“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV)
What you focus on is where you end up
Here’s a little tip that I learned while trying to reverse out of a tricky driveway in our house in New Zealand: what you focus on is where you end up. If I looked over my shoulder at the huge, potentially car-wrecking, curved concrete wall, I started to head towards it. If I ignored the wall and the gateposts and the rockery on the other side and stared at the gap, I would sail through easily. Sounds pretty simple, eh? When driving, what you look at is where you end up. So what happens when you apply that thinking to church?
As a leader, what are you focused on?
Say for example, you’re focused on God. Good start. You’re enjoying some quiet time with Him, looking Him in the eye and He tells you to step up and lead a home group. Ok, good. You do that. Brilliant.
But then what? It’s pretty easy to start to focus on the people in your group. You start to focus in on the question: what do they want from the group? The answer will take you in a certain direction and that may not be a bad direction. But already you’ve already drifted – just a little – from focusing on God Himself. Subtle, isn’t it?
Focus implies, well, focus
It goes with the territory that you physically can’t focus on more than one thing at a time. Focus implies, well, focus. Fixed, attentive attention. Apparently (according to clever brain scientists) it’s almost impossible to get better at something unless you give it your focused attention. Learning a new language or a new skill and the knock-on effects make our whole brain come alive as new neural pathways and connections develop. But you have to be focused on what you’re learning. You have to be intentional, and be present, force yourself to concentrate.
You only want one GPS
Whatever you’re focusing on affects your course. But our minds so easily bounce around from one thing and one thought to the next, we can keep zigzagging around without even realizing it.
If you’re sailing single-handedly around the globe, you’re going to keep a very close eye on your GPS. You’d never expect to get anywhere if you had three different GPS and they all said different things. If you keep switching from one to the other you’re going to end up seriously confused. Only one of them can be right, right?
The One Thing approach
There are so many good things we can do. But only one thing is needed. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and she listened to Him. She focused her entire attention on Him. I suspect that when she got up, she was incredibly productive.
“But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42 NKJV)
Jesus wasn’t focused on healing the sick or preaching the gospel
Jesus had amazing focus. The eyes of His heart were permanently glued to His Father’s face. That’s why sometimes He prayed for everyone and sometimes He prayed for just one. Sometimes He stopped to pray for the sick and sometimes they had to grab hold of His coat as He went past. Sometimes He went with His disciples in the boat and sometimes He didn’t. Jesus wasn’t focused on healing the sick or preaching the gospel. He wasn’t focused on miracles. Jesus was only focused on one thing: His Dad.
“Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19 NIV)
He wasn’t predictable. Probably, we are quite predictable because we tend to focus on our task and not the One who sent us. To be honest, it’s easier to focus on a mission statement. You know where you are with a mission statement. It’s written down and doesn’t keep leaping all over the place. With the most creative person in the universe as your personal GPS, you might end up going about things in a rather different way. Every time.
Here’s the challenge
Let’s go back to our home group leader. What does it look like to lead this group but keep focused on God? Well, I guess rather than thinking about the people and focusing on them, you might talk to Dad about it. You might ask Him, “What do you want for this group, Dad? What are you saying to us? What’s your plan today?”
You want your group to be blessed. So does Father God. But when you focus on the group, you’ll end up letting their perceived needs dictate your path. When you focus on God, His plans and purposes will end up being accomplished. I suspect it’ll be more uncomfortable and challenging His way, but also more fun and surprising.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV)
Dad, keep my eyes fixed on you with Holy Spirit glue. Help me not to get distracted by all the voices and needs and wants and people. Help me to be like Mary – to choose the one thing of your voice, your face and your presence. Oh make me as unpredictable, spontaneous and miraculous as Jesus. Yes please.