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Tuesday, December 16, 2008


In our church, we call our small groups "Focus Groups" and tell everyone that the purpose is to help us keep our focus on the right things. One of my main goals as a pastor in this culture is to try to figure out how to help Christians be more focused, and thus disciplined, in their spiritual and relational lives.

The "seven deadly sins" include one called "sloth". But "sloth" as defined by the church never meant sheer laziness. Rather it meant a lack of passion, or focus, for the things of God. You can be very busy, very disciplined, very focused (on lesser things) and still be slothful in the eyes of God. Many activities are simply ways of avoiding authentic commitment to our Lord.

David Brooks touched on this today, in his NYT column:

Control of attention is the ultimate individual power. People who can do that are not prisoners of the stimuli around them. They can choose from the patterns in the world and lengthen their time horizons. This individual power leads to others. It leads to self-control, the ability to formulate strategies in order to resist impulses. If forced to choose, we would all rather our children be poor with self-control than rich without it.

It leads to resilience, the ability to persevere with an idea even when all the influences in the world say it can’t be done. A common story among entrepreneurs is that people told them they were too stupid to do something, and they set out to prove the jerks wrong.

It leads to creativity. Individuals who can focus attention have the ability to hold a subject or problem in their mind long enough to see it anew.

As we approach a new year, it's the perfect time for each of us to do some self-evaluation and ask ourselves: what am I focused on? What am I TOO focused on? What am I not focused enough on? What do I need to change to get my priorities where I want them to be?

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