A few weeks ago, I noticed multitasking reentered my life. It slyly slipped in when I was playing a game on my phone even though I was talking to someone while the tv filled in background noise. Another time I was reading a book while watching (not) television.
“What are you doing?” I asked myself before reminding my heart and brain that this is my year of focus. The first couple of months went so smoothly, I think I lost my diligence to sharpen my focus. Somewhere along the way, something shiny drew my attention astray.
As happens with any habit, once the pattern breaks it has to be reestablished. That seems a little harder the second or third time than when the idea is new. This is why I am glad I paid attention to God, prompting me repeatedly to spend some time in the New Testament book of First Peter.
When I first opened my Bible, I did not realize Peter would draw me in right away by talking about focus. Here’s what I read in 1 Peter 1:13-16 NLT:
So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t step back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do; just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy. “
Sometimes besides reading in my Bible I play an app of the Word being read out loud as I follow along. The audio version I heard took those first words “prepare your minds for action” and replaced them with “think clearly.”
Is there a better definition of focus than “think clearly”?
And how do I think clearly? I prepare my mind for action.
Prepare —Get everything together. Know where my focus is now, and where it needs to be. Determine what tools I will need to accomplish that.
My Mind—it’s personal. It’s not getting my husband, or kids, co-workers, or even my schedule to be prepared and ready. It’s me. It’s my mind. My thoughts. My intents. My desires. My choices. What do I allow my mind to dwell on?
For Action—Focus is not passive, it doesn’t just happen. It involves movement from a scattered mindset to clear thinking. This reminds me of Second Corinthians 10:5 NASB, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” Choices are involved; make good ones. Understand the consequences. Don’t expect proper focus to suddenly appear. I have to make a change in where I look.
The battle is first won in the mind. Then by exercising self-control. When I purpose/plan what I am going to do in a given situation it strengthens the speed with which I can exercise self-control.
The best part about these words from Peter are found in the motivation. God chose me to be holy and empowers me to live a holy life when I focus where He leads.
Here’s to getting back on the think clearly track by preparing my mind for action. Who’s with me?