Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Cost of Focus

You may recall a blog entry I posted around March/April outlining what was a manifesto pledge for what I’m all about. Since then I’ve been busy working that out in various ways and seeing how that works … and doesn’t in some cases. It is still a work in progress and thankfully there have been more good days than bad.

Today I attended the Stoke-on-Trent carnival – Six Towns One City: United Strength Is Stronger. I’m not the world’s greatest party animal and neither does a day out at a carnival strike me as the thing to do. I have, however, committed myself to it and it’s a church initiative more than anything to support the ethos of being a church in the community. As I sat and watched the world go by I met a friend who I hadn’t spoken to in a while. I shared how although I had his phone number I hadn’t called him and so wondered if the number remained the same. He replied that it was the same and he similarly had not called me. He went onto explain how his life at the moment had certain priorities which consumed most of his time and occasions like the carnival were the only ones that reminded him of some friends that he hadn’t kept up with for some time. I could definitely empathise with that position.

As I hinted at with yesterday’s blog entry, sometimes the enemy of the best is the good and the saying is true that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. So as to avoid that it is best to be clear on the path to be taken and stick to that. Such an approach is bound to get people’s back up. I know that as a result of the focus that I have seen certain valued relationships take a hit. There are people who I regard highly that I haven’t been in touch with for months. The point I was making yesterday emerges again. It’s not just about stop doing the negative it is about what you do instead. Conversely if you’re positively chasing the goal that you’ve set yourself some noble things will go by the wayside.

Not long before it was time for Jesus to be taken up to heaven, he made up his mind to go to Jerusalem. (Luke 9:51)

Reading Luke 9:51-62 is a bit like what it costs to be focussed. This section is often read as the cost of discipleship as well. Why I refer to it as the cost of focus though is because of the example of Jesus in it, especially as set in that key verse. The responses to the three wanna-be disciples, talks about what discipleship and life is all about at its best. Some things just are not as important as doing whatever it takes to reach that goal, whether that’s appreciating living difficulties, forsaking family or rebuking an inclination to look behind.

I understand why I don’t hear from certain people who I revere. I appreciate that in a lot of cases it is out of sight – out of mind. In some crucial cases it is just the case that I do not fall within their one-track mind about following life as they see it. This is not a bad thing at all, but something to be encouraged in everyone. Thus the issue becomes what is more important being liked or fulfilling life by making those goals. Jesus focus on Jerusalem and the mission to complete allowed him to let any would-be followers be quite clear on what is required of them. Focus is key. For me as a believer, whatever manifestos I pronounce and job titles I put down, my focus is to be like Jesus. Now if that costs me relationships, opportunities, money, prestige and other things that must be the case. There are a lot of things that Christ will not want from me, but He will see if I’ve been faithful and faithfulness is based on being focussed.

For His Name's Sake



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