Focus - Nahom Zeleke

Everyone wants to be successful; that is for sure.  It is the reason we are always striving to find ideal principles that would put us and guide us on the road to success. It is the reason we study people who are successful in the fields we are interested in: businessmen, politicians, anyone. We watch their interviews trying to find and copy their strategies, their secrets. We may even copy haircuts just in case that is the secret behind their success. I was recently engaged in such a search; I was looking into the lives of the ‘successful’ people of our time to find if they had a common trait in their personalities that could be my principle to success. I watched several interviews; I heard what they thought about life, what they gave priority to, how they managed their time, and even what they ate daily. It turns out that the strategies of one person differs and may even contrast with the strategies of others; and it would take the rest of my life to try all of their ‘keys’ to success. A good example could be Donald Trump, who used an approach that many expected would fail, but he has managed to make it to the final round of the presidential campaign. So my search ended, I found no governing principle, however, I noted a trait that was common to all of them; focus.

You may wonder ‘What is focus?’, ‘How important is it to our life?’ or ‘Is it related to following Jesus?’ 

To give ‘focus’ a lexical definition, I could say it is the ability of a person to concentrate on something at a given time. A better explanation of focus was given me by my boss once when I was unable to complete the tasks he had assigned to me. He told me to imagine my mind was a work desk with several drawers; if ever I wanted to put something in one of the drawers, I would have to pull it out and if next I wanted to take something out of another drawer, I would have to close the open one and then pull out the other one. Right? Can you open all your drawers and search for something in all the drawers at the same time? No; because the top one will block the second and the second does the same to the third. He spoke of Napoleon Bonaparte, the great French leader that came close to conquering the whole of Europe as an example of a focused person. Napoleon was a man that controlled his mind the same way desk drawers ought to be managed. When he was in a battle, all he would think about was strategies to win. When he was with his family all his focus was on his family. His quality, or let me say his ‘secret to success’ was that he opened one drawer at a time, dealt with it and then switched to another drawer.

Our mind really is like a desk. The drawers represent the priorities in our lives. The reason why all of us are not as successful as we would want to be is that we always have all our drawers open and we try to work in all of them - which is impossible. Our attention is now fragmented instead of focused; this isn’t multitasking, it is called being distracted. It is the reason we are always handling urgent matters on a day to day basis when really, we should learn to prioritize and manage our tasks one by one.

At this moment you may be asking how this focus thing is related to following Jesus. I will ask you something that will make you wonder more.  How many of us say ‘I will serve God one day after this & that succeeds’? I want you to consider three facts in saying this. One, the time may never come if we are handling urgent matters every day. Two, serving God is something that starts small and grows bigger. Three, we can never be sure of how long we will live. I believe that if we kept focused and handled our issues according to our priorities, we will definitely have the time, the resource and the willingness to serve God. The focus of our lives should not be things of this world. This world is not our home, neither is it everlasting. The book of Hebrews, in chapter 11 tells us of great men and women who focused on the heavenly land and counted their lives here as exile, that way they were able to make their time on earth worth remembering centuries later. One of these David, a great and beloved King of Israel, who had, I suppose, many responsibilities as a king, never allowed these to hinder him from serving the Lord and fellowshipping Him. 

Bottom line is: when your time on earth ends, what story will they tell at your funeral? Do you want it to be of the wealth and prosperity? Or do you want it to be of how like David, you were a great leader who honored God in your time? 

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