What’s your Focus?

Matthew 6: 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Certain words in English just become part of our vocabulary and we forget their origin.  For instance the word “Laser” is actually an acronym standing for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.  I was surprised to hear that lasers don’t actually need significant power.  You can search online for “Bulb vs. Laser” and find interesting demonstrations.  In one, a 20 watt light bulb has no effect on a balloon, but then when using just a 100 milliwatt laser (200 times lesser power than the light bulb) it quickly pops through multiple balloons.  While the theory is far more complex, very basically speaking the secret is using mirrors or fiber optics to direct coherent light which creates a focussed beam.  The key is focus.

This made me think of a word often associated with sports – focus.  Jim Taylor Ph.D. wrote an interesting article in www.psychologytoday.com entitled “Sports: Understanding Focus in Sports”.  In the article Taylor brings up the term Attentional Field, which refers to everything inside of you (i.e. thoughts, emotions etc) and everything outside of you (i.e. sights, sounds etc.) on which you could focus. Prime Focus refers to focussing on only performance-relevant cues within your Attentional Field“Depending on the sport, performance-relevant cues can include technique, tactics, your opponent, the score, time remaining, and many other cues”.  In contrast Poor Focus involves focussing on cues which he calls “performance irrelevant”, which is focussing on cues that will actually hurt your performance.  These can include harmful cues that will directly hurt your performance (e.g. negative thoughts, anxiety etc.) or irrelevant cues (e.g. the plane flying overhead, dinner plans etc.) which can simply distract you from Prime Focus.  A successful athlete will be able to maximize the Prime Focus in their Attentional Field.

In considering Jesus’ life here on earth he certainly spent considerable time teaching the value of focus.  Reading Matthew 6:25-34 you will see that Jesus speaks of a number of things that can fill our Attentional Field, such as what we eat, drink, concern over our bodies, or what we wear.  He asks the rhetorical question “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”  Jesus does not imply that these things are unimportant, but he alludes to something being more important.  Later he tells us what our Prime Focus is supposed to be; it is to seek first His Kingdom, and His Righteousness “and all these things will be given to you as well”.  Jesus is saying that we are to seek the things of God as a priority, such as salvation of the lost, which is of far greater value than all the world’s riches.  We are to focus on His will for our lives, focus on obedience to Him, focus on sharing the good news of the kingdom to others, and trust Him to take care of the other things in our lives.  It does not mean we pay no attention to basic needs, as the Bible makes it clear that we are to be wise with money and provide for our families, but it is a matter of focus.  What is your Prime Focus?  Do you seek FIRST the kingdom of God?

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