How do we stay focused on the task at hand amidst a world of constant distraction? Is there a way we can strengthen and build our concentration muscle to accomplish what we are called to do? The world is consistently calling us away to something of lesser value.
Social media says, “Come and put your attention on me.”
The latest political news says, “Come and read me.”
Your email says, “come and check me again!”
Here is the reality of concentration – we decide daily where we put our attention. It is within our power to choose. Being aware of how many times we check our phone for updates can be the beginning of a change. We unconsciously make decisions as to where we put our time and focus. We have become a society of never wanting to be bored, or sit idle, or observe our surroundings. We keep the mind moving, moving, moving. It is hard for us to settle into the present. We find it uncomfortable to sit and be. Sit with our thoughts, sit with ourselves. Try it sometime. What feelings bubble up when we leave the phone alone and take in the sights, sounds, and people around us? Who are we becoming because of our choices?
We live in the era of digital distractions where so many things battle for our attention. I can remember the dawn of the internet in the early 90’s. It was exciting and produced hope and possibilities of what it could mean to our personal and professional lives in a positive way. What we didn’t consider was the flip side of the consequences and the toll it would take on our emotional and mental health in addition to our creative potential. We didn’t know much back then. We had no idea of how it would change us as people and how it would impact our brain.
The highly addictive pull of the internet, social media sites, and our inbox, are all a real thing that we deal with daily. I find I say to myself, “I am not checking Facebook today or I am waiting till noon to look at my emails.” For me, that is problematic.
Distractions come disguised in the form of thoughts, ideas, sounds, people, body sensations, music, and many other things. Distraction hijacks our concentration, and we unconsciously allow it. We all get lost. We get caught up in scrolling, searching, or reading something we never intended to place our attention onto in the first place. Curiosity gets us every time. The brain wants to know. It is who we are and part of our divine design. While curiosity is a God-given gift it can become detrimental when it carries us away from our work, our worship, our people, our conversations, and our solitude.
When we start to consider where our attention goes, and it occurs to us we have wandered away (again) from the present moment we can begin to take control and direct our intentions and our thoughts toward what is a priority in this moment. Meditation is a way to strengthen and build our concentration muscle but more on that next time.
Three scripture verses come to mind as we struggle to stay centered on the task at hand. Romans 12:2 says, “Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit (ask Him for help with the challenge) through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in His eyes.”
“Perfect, absolute peace surrounds those whose imaginations are consumed with you; they confidently trust in You.” Isaiah 26:3
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight (addiction to our phone, social media, staying current for FOMO, etc.) and the sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
Our focus and attention are our most precious commodities. Our life is and will be made up of where we decide to put our attention. Our lives will bear witness as to what we have invested in each day. We have all heard the statement “what we focus on expands.” So, what is sabotaging your time – interrupting you throughout your day – keeping you from those important priorities and taking a toll on your focus hampering your mental and emotional energy? The pull – we know it and we feel it. It is real. The good news is we CAN take baby steps toward more freedom from the pull of the world. What would that look like for you? It will be different for everyone. He can do above and beyond anything you could ever ask or imagine. Believe Him for all things! He’s gotcha!
One last thought, I continue to work on this discipline by the grace and goodness of God. You can too so you are equipped and ready for every good work and assignment He brings your way!
Choose this day … set your intention … keep getting back up!