The accomplishment of any worthy goal will be more of a marathon than a sprint. Every day we are either taking ground or losing it in the fight.
– Rick Joyner
I am a “Nike” fan. The quality of Nike shoes is exceptional. But I don’t buy an expensive Nike shoe just for the quality aspect. What I love about the “Nike” brand is their messaging.
When I think of “Nike”, I think of discipline, endurance and focus. Those are the qualities you will find in a great athlete. It is something that resonates with what I value.
The Bible compares living a Godly lifestyle to running a race and fighting a fight. The race is accomplishing the purposes of God for our lives. The fight is the fight of faith in the face of temptations, trials, and tests. The practicality of all these is lived out in the choices we make daily.
Greatness is in the preparation, not in the performance.
– Jack Hyles
Talking about preparation, I like what pastor Rick Joyner says, “The main difference between star athletes, musicians, artists, or great professionals in any field, and those who have similar talents but are sitting in the audience is simply the ability to focus on their goals, and the devotion to train, practice, and prepare.”
Are we average in our skills? Are we average in seeking God? Are we average in purity? Are we average in loving? To go beyond the average you need to cultivate a focused lifestyle of an athlete.
Do you know that Apostle Paul trained himself with the mindset of an athlete? His resilience and focus can be measured by what he wrote:
“A true athlete will be disciplined in every respect, practicing constant self-control in order to win a laurel wreath that quickly withers. But we run our race to win a victor’s crown that will last forever. For that reason, I don’t run just for exercise or box like one throwing aimless punches, but I train like a champion athlete. I subdue my body and get it under my control so that after preaching the good news to others I myself won’t be disqualified.”
The greatest pursuit in life is the pursuit of God. The greatest accomplishment in life is doing the will of God. There is a race and fight to be won. Most do not care about pursuing God, fulfilling His purpose and living a lifestyle that honors God. In the end, they will realize that they were running a race and fighting a fight that had no eternal value.
Given the brevity of our lives here, we need to make up our minds whether we want to pursue God wholeheartedly or not. Paul’s focus was unbroken because he understood the high calling of God.
He understood what was at stake. Most of us don’t have the kind of tenacity that Paul had because we haven’t decided to go all in with God.
Just because you are doing a lot more, doesn’t mean you are getting a lot more done. Don’t confuse movement with progress. Because you can run in place and not get anywhere.
– Denzel Washington
The Bible says that a double minded man is unstable in his ways. People who aren’t making any progress are stuck either in indecision or a weak will to follow through.
When we lack focus, we often try our hands at many things. But much activity is not always productivity. If we don’t focus intentionally and strategically in the areas that we want to grow, we will not make much progress.
If you want to increase your batting average, you have to stop swinging at every pitch that comes over the plate.
– Bob Mumford
The secret to being exceptionally good at anything is a single-minded pursuit of that one thing. When our focus is undivided, consistent and concentrated, we become better and stronger in that one thing. And sometimes we make significant advancements in a very short span of time.
But as you put this thought into practice, you need to be careful. Often what happens is that when you intensely focus on one thing, it can make you blind to many other areas of your life. The wisdom is to sort out your priorities and allocate time for each.
Practically for many of us, we don’t have the luxury of time. We have many responsibilities. But that shouldn’t be an excuse for not focussing on things in life that really do matter.
The person who says, “I can’t do it,” and the person who says, “I can do it,” are both right.
– Jentezen Franklin
The truth is that, if we need something badly enough we will go to a great length for it. With discipline, patience, and wisdom of God, you can reinvent your life.
Maybe some of us are not lazy. Our priorities are sorted to some extent. We have some measure of focus but it is average or gets broken. Maybe you are simply throwing away your time at things that really don’t matter in life. Deep down you know you could be so much more.
You can continue living that kind of lifestyle and just be fine. But at some point, you need to come to a self-realization that it’s up to you to set the ceiling on how far you want to go. Why should you just settle in like most people when there is more?
Practical tips to stay focused on things that matter the most:
Understand the why behind the what.
The “why” is foundational to “what” you are doing. Your game plan is the “what” and “why” is the fuel that keeps the fire burning for your game plan. You will only go so far to the degree you understand the cause and what is at stake.
Prioritize the top 3 areas of your life.
I suggest calibrating your will and mind to focus on three or four high priority areas of your life. Once you have decided on them, out of these set the most important one as the “One Thing”. This “One Thing” is the most non-negotiable priority of your life. It is this that holds all other areas of your life together.
If you seek God first and make Him the prime pursuit of your life, you will find strength. A woman called Mary was more interested in listening to Jesus while others were too busy doing the stuff. It is “the One thing” that Jesus said would not be taken away.
David the poet and warrior King, in the midst of the busyness of running a nation, penned a poem with these opening words, “Here’s the one thing I crave from God, the one thing I seek above all else: I want the privilege of living with Him every moment in His house.”
Strategize your game plan to follow through with each priority.
This is where you allocate your time to each priority and invest into them with actionable steps.
For example, if I want to improve as a web designer I need to set aside a time, say once a week, to do research on the latest web trends, learn something new and implement it.
If you want to grow in friendship with God, you need to invest in learning about Him first. If you have the wrong concept of God, you need to re-learn the basics first. And you need to learn it from people who are experiencing God for real, not in theory.
The Bible says that if you seek God with your whole heart, you will find Him. Investing time in the basics will set you on a path towards friendship with God.
I not only read and study the Bible personally but I am also a part of a community of people who are passionate about God. We learn, encourage each other and grow together in God. We meet once or twice a week. If you are in Kochi, you can join us too.
You can live with an awareness of God’s presence and can talk to Him anytime and anywhere. But you need to allocate exclusive undistracted time with God. Spend time in prayer and talk to Him. Jesus often withdrew to a place where He can be alone with God. If you fail in this discipline, the disciplined lifestyle and the focus itself will get hard.
Cut down unnecessary entertainment and distractions.
You can simplify your life by omitting distractions. It is not that you shouldn’t have fun, unwind or relax. We all need to. But you need to steward your time responsibly. Spend the currency of time wisely.
There is a huge market catering to bored consumers. Your time is not worth many of the stuff out there on YouTube or television. Choose the ones worthy of your time and mind to learn, enjoy and unwind.
Your mind is the garden and it’s up to you to decide what you want to grow in it. Pastor Shane Idleman says, “What we watch and listen to affects the heart. Being selective with what we watch and listen to has nothing to do with legalism; it has everything to do with wisdom. Grace does not relieve us of responsibility. We actually live under a higher standard when grace, not rules, guides our decisions.”
Rest and reflect. Learn to disengage your mind and body from activities. If you try to push yourself too much without adequate rest, you will burn out. Rest is important to recharge physically, emotionally and spiritually. It facilitates the flow of revelation, ideas, and creativity. It is in the times of rest that you can reflect on your progress and other aspects of life.