A perfectly functioning camera is capable of taking both good pictures and bad ones. If the camera is focused on the right things, it takes good pictures. If it’s focused on the wrong things, then it produces bad pictures.
I suppose you could say that we’re similar to cameras, except we don’t have an off button. And even if we’re aimed in the right direction, it’s so easy to focus on the wrong thing.
I was flipping through my Battle Plan for Prayer Bible Study (it’s where I keep a few brainstormed blog ideas along with my devotionals), searching for inspiration for my next blog post. I found this question:
What temptations do you need help avoiding? What strategies of the Enemy do you need to realize?
My two answers were: becoming prideful and becoming distant.
If I became prideful as my writing skills flourished, it would taint my writing, hinder my ability to touch people, and drive others away. And my writing and schoolwork could tear my away from the people who mattered most in my life—if I let them.
For the past several years, a sizable chunk of my life has been devoted to writing. Oftentimes, I go to bed before everyone else in my family and skip some activities, because I’m either working on my story or writing another blog post.
I’ve felt like writing is my personal mission from God. I love writing so much. And what better way to reach people than through stories? Yet my God-given mission could easily become my greatest weakness. As I mentioned above, I could become arrogant or I could let writing tear me away from my family. I don’t want to be out there, writing books, saving souls, and letting my relationship with my family deteriorate.
And all it would take to turn my writing against me would be for me to fixate on it. I could forget about my principles, faith, and family to pursue writing. My camera could still be pointed in the right direction—my God-given mission—but then I would have the wrong object in focus.
Focusing on What Matters Most
If you shouldn’t fixate on your God-given mission, then what should you focus on?
A teacher of mine used to say that if you answered “Jesus” in Sunday school, there’s a 90% chance you answered correctly. So, if you gave a Sunday school answer, then you’d be correct.
But wait a second! There are tons of good things you could prioritize and pursue aside from faith—family, values, personal development. But if we make any of those the center of our life, we’ll deteriorate.
Let’s say someone values justice and honesty. There’s nothing wrong with either of them, unless it’s taken too far. After all, what’s justice and honesty without mercy? But if only mercy is focused on, then justice and honesty can be neglected.
The same goes for friends and family. If we make them the center of our world, it will hurt us. If your only mission in life is to make your parents happy, you’ll not only fail, but that goal will destroy you. Making your parents happy is a good thing, but it can easily be taken too far.
The only thing we can focus on without worrying about going to an extreme is God. You could argue that’s unhealthy too. Aren’t there priests, monks, and nuns who are obsessed with God? Monks live in isolation. Nuns and priests never get married, because they’re so devoted to God.
Focusing on God doesn’t mean you try to obey every Old Testament law, make a vow of celibacy, or live in isolation. It simply means you follow His principles and seek Him. You can’t focus on only honesty and justice, because God is also a God of mercy. You can’t only focus on making your parents happy, because God hasn’t made you responsible for their feelings and pleasing God is your ultimate priority. But neither can you ignore everyone around you and just focus on God. That’s impossible. If you love God, then you love others.
And what’s wrong with making you the focus of your life?
Because a life without God and His principles leading you is like a ship without a captain. The ship may think it’s now free to travel on its own, free to lead itself, when in reality it’s a slave to the currents and wind—to circumstances. An unmanned ship is a doomed ship.
Just like that ship, we’re also slaves to our flesh and our circumstances, unless we let God guide us.
Whether we like it or not, we’re going to fixate on something. We can’t control the fact that we need to focus on something, only the object of our focus. What things are you focusing on? Have you ever been too fixated on something? What tiny details distract you from what matters most?