Home > Advent > The Power of Focus

How well do you know you?  Would you recognize yourself if you looked into the mirror of your life?  The older I get the more I understand the wisdom of the sage advice to “know thyself.” Do you know what it is that brings out the worst or the best in you?  I understand that an attempt to better understand our thoughts, moods, behavior, and decisions can lead to a paralysis of analysis.  However, on the other hand, the “ignorance is bliss” approach can lead to disaster if one doesn’t dig deeper into the recesses of one’s life.

Here’s something that I know about myself.  I have difficulty with focus, which is interesting, even ironic, since this blog is called Ford’s Focus. Focus brings things that are confusing or blurry into clarity. Blurred vision is dangerous and can also cause eye strain. A few years ago I bought the book The Power of Focus by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Les Hewitt. I don’t remember if I read it.  I think I gave it away because I couldn’t get focused; go figure. Before all of you ADD experts bombard me with the latest, greatest medication options, just take a deep breath and focus with me for a minute. Maybe I do need medication but as for now, there are other options I need to consider.

Perhaps I can’t focus because I’m trying to cram two lifetimes into one.  It’s called over_______.  Perhaps it’s because… hold on the phone just rang, and I’ll get right back to you.  I’m back.  Perhaps it’s because I’m too stimulated with sight and sound and have become addicted to noise. Perhaps it’s because I’m afraid I’ll miss something or someone which will make me look bad or will disappoint the one who is calling for my attention.

Well, enough of the self-analysis.  I was visiting with my son Greg over the Thanksgiving holiday, and he shared with me that the people he knows that are “successful” all share a common trait, and that trait is… you guessed it.  Focus. They live in the present moment and heed to St. Paul’s admonition, “This one thing I do.”  I admire people who are able to live in that type of focused zone.  I also admire people who seem to be able to multi-multi task and accomplish much.  So which one is it?  Slow down and focus or keep moving, work harder or manage better?

I don’t know which one is necessarily better, but I have a hunch that much of it is tied to temperament, giftedness, available resources, and a multitude of other factors that contribute to effectiveness.  Here’s one thing I know about me.  All of what I do with my life must be tied to my theme Bible verse, which is Romans 14:17. “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

The larger question is “however I do life,” is my life ruled by a holy, peace-filled, joy-filled presence and power of the Holy Spirit?  If the kingdom of God is evidenced in my life by these qualities and if I am to seek first the kingdom of God, shouldn’t I make that my focus? The answer is yes.  With God’s help I’m making a commitment to practice the wisdom shared by Ruth Haley Barton in her book, Sacred Rhythms, Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation.

The bottom line is God has established balance and boundaries to keep us focused and to keep us from becoming distracted with the latest, greatest….  Ruth believes that to help us stay focused, God uses spiritual disciplines like solitude, silence, prayer, spiritual meditation, scripture, and yes fasting, and other holy habits.  Focus on that last word.  Habits.  In The Power of Focus, rule number one for getting focused is developing a habit of focusing on the right things.  You know, keep the main thing the main thing.

As we enter the Advent season, and life begins to speed up, this blog is a call for all of us to focus on the reason for the season, which is Jesus.  Make the main thing the main thing over the next five weeks.  The main thing isn’t shopping at the mall or baking cookies or caroling or Santa Claus.  The main thing is making sure the honored guest is the center of your attention, lest you lose perspective, and life gets out of focus.

Now I’ll close by sharing one last thing I know about me.  It’s called procrastination. So, it’s time for me to go and practice what I preach. Focus Ford, focus.