4 Mar 2015

Have you ever been doing laundry and thought, “I really should be doing school with the kids right now?” Have you ever been talking with your children and realized that you were not really listening? Instead, you were thinking about other tasks or projects you feel that you should be doing.

We may be tempted to think, “I wish I could be in two places at one time!” The reality, though, is that we end up being in no place at all.

Two very costly things happen when we often find ourselves in situations where we cannot stay focused.

1) We are stressed.

It is stressful to feel trapped doing one thing when you feel that you ought to be doing another! Our minds and bodies put up with the constant tension of trying to be in two places at once. Our minds and hearts are not where we are!

2) We are unproductive.

I recently heard this statement: “Love is attention.” When someone is talking with you, and his or her heart is not in the conversation, you can tell! The relationship is not growing and the conversation is not effective. This is not a good use of time!

Another example is the daily experience of being continually interrupted when we have to accomplish a task that requires attention and thought. How frustrating! We lose time and energy when we have to refocus ourselves on the task after the interruption. We also lose momentum!

Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “Make the best use of the time, for the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:16 ESV)

One of the major ways we make the best use of time is to focus! The reason we need to keep our focus is that the days are evil. We are in a spiritual battle and there is much at stake. We cannot afford to squander our time!

One of the keys to giving something your full attention is to be convinced you are doing the right thing. Here is the rest of the verse:

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV)

Here are ways to get a better focus and use your time more wisely.

1) Carefully select the best and most important thing to do at the time.

Be willing to say no to the many other things that you could be doing. When you find yourself doing something that is not the Lord’s will or the best for the moment, stop.

2) Give yourself fully to what you are doing.

This can be done because you have a conviction that you are doing the right thing. Give your whole mind and heart to it. (Your children will be able to tell when you are really listening!)

3) Relentlessly resist distractions.

Sometimes this is difficult. We often have to say no to important things. But it is worth it to stay focused. There may be an important or urgent interruption that trumps the current activity. A person who has clearly delineated his priorities and goals will quickly be able to assess what takes priority. But most things can wait.

Ah! What peace to know that I am doing what is best and giving myself wholly to it. So much can be accomplished when I am focused! Try these suggestions and I believe you will have a peaceful and productive day!

Matthew McDill and his wife, Dana, live in Clemmons, NC, with six of their nine children. Matthew has been in pastoral ministry for over twenty-five years and is now the executive director for North Carolinians for Home Education. He earned his M.Div. and Ph.D. at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and authored the book Loving God: A Practical Handbook for Discipleship. Matthew loves to teach from God’s Word, especially on topics related to family relationships, discipleship, parenting and home education.