Staff Picks – “Focus Over Distraction”

January 12, 2017
Note: Staff Picks is a recurring series where one of our staff members will pick something to write about. In most cases their inspiration will be from a book they are reading, TV show they are watching, movie they recently saw or a song that has been speaking to them. In some cases, like today’s, they may find their inspiration from something else.

This past weekend our youth group went away on a retreat to High Point Camp. It was awesome! Cold, but awesome! There’s something about getting away from the monotony of everyday life that really opens you up to hear from God. It was clear that God was moving in and amongst our students. But God showed me a bit of myself over the weekend too.

Our speaker, Ryan, had us focus on a question all weekend. What is in the way? What’s in the way of you getting closer to God? What’s stopping you from experiencing more of him? On Saturday night, he was speaking about kairos moments or thin spaces, times where God feels close, moments when we are especially aware of his presence. One of these moments he called “mirror moments.” Times when God shows you a bit of yourself. He shared that not long ago God helped him come to the realization that the only thing keeping him from getting closer to God was his own love of distraction. He’d rather be distracted than to lean in to what God is saying to him. He’d rather be on Facebook than reading the Bible. He’d rather be on his phone than listening for the Spirit.

I like to tell people I’m busy. And I didn’t think I was lying. Life feels busy. But when our speaker shared these words, I saw myself in the mirror. I saw my life for what it really is. I’m not nearly as busy as I am distracted. So I decided I want to fix that. In 2016 I’m choosing Focus over Distraction. I sat down the day after the retreat and did something I’ve been meaning to do for like 5 months. I made rules for myself regarding my biggest source of distraction, my phone. I made rules that are going to help me choose focus over distraction. Maybe they’ll be useful for you too.

  1. At 9:30 every night I will either turn my phone off or put it on airplane mode if I need an alarm.
  2. I will not check my phone (e-mail, texts, social media, etc) until after I’ve spent time with the Lord each morning.
  3. I will keep my phone in a separate room while I am playing with my daughter.
  4. From dinner time until Riley goes to bed my phone will be off.
  5. While on dates with my wife, I will leave my phone in the car.
  6. I will not take my phone into the bathroom with me. This is to build discipline…and to be more sanitary.

So, I wrote these rules down Monday. I’ve already broken them. Maybe it’s better to call them goals than rules. But I’m aiming for this. It’s silly that this is going to be as difficult as I know it’s going to be. It’s silly that I thought about changing some of these rules to make them easier for me to follow. It’s silly that I have a Pavlovian response to pick up my phone at red lights or whenever I move from one room to another. It’s silly that I feel weird in a bathroom without checking my phone. It’s silly that I would choose a screen over the attention of my wife, my daughter, and my God. But we live in a silly world and I’m a silly man.

Maybe it’s not your phone that is the cause of your distraction. But what is in your way? What’s keeping you from experiencing God more deeply?

This edition of Staff Picks is probably going to be less of the norm, but it’s something that God has been placing in front of my for quite some time. I wanted to make the change real or least make the guilt for not listening heavier so I told you all about it. I will recommend one book to you. #Struggles by Craig Groeschel. Leah and I are reading it in preparation for our upcoming Young Adults study and it’s been extremely relevant and challenging.