Shew wee! I am so guilty of this one myself so I wanted to share a few thoughts.
So many times I focus on the WRONG things and I end up with the wrong conclusions and the wrong results. How about you?
I don’t know many people who don’t want to improve their life in SOME way. Hopefully we are all striving to grow into the best version of ourselves, but so many times we are limited by choosing to focus on the wrong things. And it’s not always intentional. Sometimes we don’t even realize we are doing it! Here are a few examples that have popped up or personal experiences where I have focused on the wrong things.
*FLAWS in OTHERS. Matthew 7:3 says “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Why in the world are we so busy picking apart others when we all have our own junk we need to be focusing on? We are wasting so much of our time focusing on others’ shortcomings & choices. (Really, what does it accomplish? Nothing.) What if we spent that time focusing on their strengths & speaking life over them, and getting the plank out of our own eye? We should be so focused on improving ourselves and helping others that we don’t have time to judge or gossip. The Top 10 Distinctions Between Millionaires and the Middle Class says that “Millionaires talk about ideas. The middle class talks about things and other people.” Are you more focused on what others are doing or not doing and the choices they are making than your own life? Are you busy talking about other people when you could be ministering to them or talking about ideas instead? If you’re focused on the flaws of others, you are focusing on the wrong thing.
*PROBLEMS. Goodness gracious, we’ve all got em. And they are REAL. I am not discounting that life can be tough. It can hurt. Nobody “likes” the valleys & the trials. (Not anyone I know, anyway. Definitely not me.) BUT, we still have choice. We can CHOOSE to focus on our blessings more than our problems. I understand that sometimes we have to devote time to finding a solution, but we can still choose to remain grateful, thankful, and positive even through the storms. We have so many BLESSINGS in our lives, and what we focus on increases. (Don’t believe me? Try it for a week.) 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” If you’re more focused on your problems than your blessings, you’re focused on the wrong thing.
*HOW FAR YOU HAVE LEFT TO GO. So many times we focus on how far we have to go and it becomes overwhelming. I love long-term thinking, planning, and goals, but I also know that we have to create daily action steps that will help get us there. Set shorter-term goals as well, celebrate small wins, and be thankful for how far you’ve come. It is a JOURNEY. We live in a microwave generation where we want results immediately. I have seen people QUIT over and over before achieving what they said they wanted to achieve (most likely because it didn’t happen as quickly as they wanted). The real key is to KEEP MOVING in the right direction! If you’re not focusing on the journey; the baby steps and daily actions to achieve your goals, you’re focusing on the wrong thing.
*”I CAN’T GO TO CHURCH BECAUSE THERE ARE TOO MANY HYPOCRITES.” It makes me so sad to hear people say things like this. Christians are not perfect and don’t have it all together. Shoot, I mess up all the time! And that’s exactly the point. I go to church because I desire the teaching, the accountability, and the encouragement. I need to be uplifted and a couple hours away from the world to worship and pray and study the Word. I can assure you that I am TRYING to be more like Christ, even if I am struggling and to you it might seem like I’m a “hypocrite.” (My flesh causes me to fail. That’s why Romans 12:2 encourages us to “Renew our mind daily.”) No, I don’t know a single Christian who doesn’t mess up…and yes, maybe some of us do act “holier than thou” sometimes when we shouldn’t. But, if that’s keeping you out of church, again, you are focusing on the WRONG thing. I know I want grace from others when I mess up, so that means I have to freely give it.
It doesn’t stop there. Some people stop going to church because they don’t like the music or the preaching style or the dress or the kids’ program. If it’s any of those things keeping you out of church, you could be focusing on the wrong thing.
“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith…Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together…but let us encourage one another- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:22-25
*COMPARISON. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt
So very true, but so hard not to do. We compare so many aspects of our lives, and that results in either jealousy, insecurity, or pride. None of those are pleasing in the sight of the Lord. We have made an intentional effort to focus more on improving ourselves and stop comparing our lives (in any arena) to others. If we notice someone has something we want (a long, fruitful marriage, or grown children who are the type of kids we want to raise), then we seek mentorship. We ask questions and try to do what they do. But we do not sit around coming up with reasons we don’t have what they have, or reasons why they do. That is the wrong focus & won’t get you any closer to your goals. I definitely struggled with this more in high school (particularly with body image)and college (my pitching abilities) than I do now. Maybe that is a part of maturing? You learn to be more content (Hebrews 13:5). What I know is this: If you’re comparing yourself to others, you are focusing on the wrong thing.
*REASONS WHY YOU CAN’T. Many times, a reason why you can’t is a reason why you should. I often hear people say things like “Why can’t I …” and you can fill in the blank with lots of variables (lose weight, get out of debt, get more people involved with my ministry, have a better relationship with so & so, etc.). This tends to lead to excuses rather than results. A better question would be…”How can I?” It’s a simple switch, and asking a better question will lead to better results. Asking the wrong question will lead to undesirable results. If you are focusing on reasons you CAN’T accomplish something, you are focusing on the wrong thing.
*WORRYING WHAT OTHERS THINK. There are so many layers to this, but I have noticed that so many of us make choices based on the opinions of others.
One area I have seen a huge focus on this is related to parenting- and specifically to moms. I know some moms who are constantly sharing blog posts validating how they feel or what they do as a mom. Everyone is so torn up about stay at home moms vs. working moms, formula feeding vs. breastfeeding, schedule & sleep training vs. attachment parenting. And how hard and exhausting it is to be a mom. And while it is true that YES, this is one of the toughest yet most rewarding jobs we will ever have, and yes, we may not feel like we’re ever doing anything right, and yes, I’m wearing the same yoga pants for the 4th day in a row and haven’t had an adult conversation in a week, we are BLESSED. Know how many beautiful women I know who would give anything for an opportunity to be able to say those things? Really, if you feel you are doing the best for your child, you are in agreement with your spouse, you have prayed about it and feel peace about your choices, we shouldn’t need validation from others, and we don’t have to keep sharing blog posts about it. Worrying what others think is rooted in insecurity. I don’t mean this in any way to sound haughty, but I am honestly not overly concerned with what other people think about my parenting choices. I seek the Lord, study the Word, pray fervently, read a ton, & seek wisdom (asking questions and modeling) from other parents who have “fruit on the tree.” Some people thought I had too rigorous of a schedule and was too intense about not needing a nap. Some thought I should have “baby-proofed” our house more. Some didn’t like the idea of Baby-Led Weaning. And that’s okay. The good news is, everyone is entitled to the opinion. The better news is, I can take those opinions (respectfully) with a grain of salt. We just need to chill out being so concerned what others think. (Yes, I’m going to need to reread this myself if my kids are ever having a tantrum in public.)
AdvoCare is another example. Some people thought we were crazy for putting “all of our eggs in our AdvoCare basket.” That I was crazy for walking away from a steady income and “good insurance.” If we had listened to the naysayers, we wouldn’t be a full-time family right now. I might would have missed some precious moments with my sweet Jase.
I’m not saying ignore everyone around you. However, there is a difference in considering the valued opinions of others and being overly concerned with what others think. My faith and my family are more important than anyone else’s thoughts or judgments. Galatians 1:10 says “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Check your focus. Whose opinion is most important to you? Who are you trying to please? (I’m still constantly working on this one, by the way, but I AM improving!)
If you are more focused on what others think rather than what the Lord thinks, you are focusing on the wrong thing.
I know changing my focus and thinking in many areas has completely changed my perspective. Are there any other areas where you notice you struggle in focusing on the wrong things? It may be worth praying and asking the Lord to reveal areas where your heart and focus have been in the wrong place. It’s not an easy questions to ask (or an easy answer to hear), but it is worth it.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. -Hebrews 12:11