Where is Your Focus?
The focus of our thoughts determines the direction of our day, our relationships, and our journey. The Bible has a lot to say about our thought life. For example, Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Second Corinthians 10:3-5 teaches, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Paul also wrote, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8 – Emphasis added).
These verses teach us to renew our minds, bring our thoughts into captivity (versus having our thoughts take us captive), and meditate on what is true, just, pure, etc. Why? Because our thoughts shape our mood, attitude, and actions. Our thoughts can uplift and draw us to God, propelling us to be effective and living the life He has called us to live or they can do just the opposite by dragging us down, causing us to be ineffective, and even distant from God and the life He has called us to live. Some days I find myself limping along, being distracted by busyness, battling negative self talk, doubt, fear, and unbelief. And you do too. This is a battle and it is daily. So what can we do to capture our thoughts and focus them on what is true, just, pure, and lovely?
Try an experiment. For one week, follow these four practices as you begin your day and see what difference it makes in your thinking, attitude, and actions.
First, get up! If you are like me, my first thoughts can be of the many things to get done, or anxiousness about the coming day, or other burdens that I’m carrying. For those of us living in the northern hemisphere and colder climates, the days are getting colder and there just isn’t a lot of inspiration to jump out of bed on a cold, dark morning. So don’t even think about it, just do it! Get up and get moving – jump in the shower, get on the exercise bike, get a cup of coffee – whatever it takes to get you moving and not allowing negative thoughts or moods to set in.
Second, focus on who God is and His promises toward you. Compiling a list of Scriptures on which to meditate is powerful, and the action itself will begin the process of renewing your mind. Here are a few that have been a great source of blessing to me:
- “O Sovereign LORD! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!” (Jeremiah 32:17)
- “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
- “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
- “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5b)
Compile a couple of pages of promises and affirmations like these from the Bible as you get started in the process of renewing your mind. If you need ideas, one great resource I’ve used over the years is Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word.
Third, write out 5-10 things for which you are grateful. After you create your list, rehearse these over and over for five minutes; savor this and just enjoy the blessings you have. Thank God for them in specific ways, like how a particular relationship or material blessing enriches your life. Why? Because we have a tendency to focus on what is missing rather than what we do have, and this is especially true for things we take for granted. If you’ve ever lost power due to a storm, you know what I mean. How often do we thank God for electricity until we no longer have it! One rule here: Do not list something more than once during the week. This will help to develop curiosity and exploration.
Finally, envision your future with God. Think about your future with God. Dream about what He has called you to be and do and see Him helping you succeed. Remember that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He will be with you in the future just as He has been faithful in the past.
I recall that when my wife and I first moved to Philadelphia to help start a church we had a used clothes dryer which someone had given to us, but we did not have a washing machine. A friend of the Senior Pastor owned a supermarket in the area and the Tide detergent folks (Proctor and Gamble) delivered a washing machine to his store as a gift for selling their products. He said, “I don’t need a washing machine. I wonder who does?” He ended up calling our Senior Pastor, who told him that my wife and I needed one. Not only did this man deliver it to our home, he hooked up the electric line to get it running! This was truly an affirmation that God cares for the biggest and smallest details in our lives and will move to provide for us; so trust Him today! “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O LORD, do not abandon those who search for you” (Psalm 9:10).
One closing thought: What do you do when you run into resistance and obstacles? These are inevitable and part of life. Don’t give in to believing the lie that this is the way things will always be, or that God must not really want you to move forward in a particular area. Instead, take a moment and write down what lies you are believing, and explore:
- Where did this thought come from?
- What is the truth?
- What does God say about this?
Doing so will change your attitude and perspective, which will make a major difference in your ability to move forward instead of remaining stuck. The focus of my coaching is to help Christians live a life of purpose, passion, and significance. Please e-mail me and let me know if this has helped you so we can rejoice together!
Copyright © 2013 Michael Pfau. All rights reserved.
Michael Pfau is a professional life coach who helps people live the second half of life with purpose, passion, and significance. He is currently coaching Daniel Henderson and can be reached by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can discover more about him and check out resources to help you at www.crosswayslifecoaching.com.