By Dr. John Ed Mathison
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries
One of my good friends in ministry was Dr. Bill Hinson. We knew each other in college, and we were in seminary together at Emory. He became the pastor of the largest Methodist Church in America at First Methodist in Houston, Texas. I had the privilege to work with him on a lot of things for renewal in The United Methodist Church. He retired early to North Alabama; sadly, he suffered a heart attack and died.
Bill was a great preacher. I’ll never forget his telling about lion tamers who go into the cage with lions. They carry a four-legged stool. They also carry whips, poles, and pistols, but the purpose of the stool is fascinating.
The lion tamer always holds the stool by the back and points the four legs toward the face of the wild animal. The animal tries to focus on all four legs at once. When he does this, a kind of paralysis comes over him, and the animal becomes weak and disabled because his attention is fragmented and is unable to focus.
Too often we try to focus on too many things, and we become victims of discouragement and disappointment, and ineffective living. A lack of focus is destructive.
One of my favorite passages is Hebrews 12:1-2. The backdrop is an athletic event, the race. The writer describes that the runner always runs with focus and purpose. He says, “We must keep our eyes focused on Jesus, who is the Alpha and the Omega of our faith.”
You never see a runner win who is multi-focused while he is running. You don’t see him waving to people up in the crowd, or “hot-dogging.” The runner who wins focuses on the finish line and runs straight towards it. He doesn’t look at his competitors! He doesn’t get distracted. He is focused!
One of the big differences in success and failure is how well we are able to focus. Someone has said, “The successful man is the average man – focused.”
When a football team goes out of town for the big game, much of the planning centers on how to keep the team focused. Play off and championship games carry with them many distractions. The more focused a team can be, the better it will perform. Last year a German soccer team immediately changed hotels for its training camp. They found that a beauty contest was taking place at that resort hotel with 400 Russian models. Smart coach!
There is a convicting Old Testament story about a guard who was looking after an enemy who had been captured. His responsibility was to focus on keeping the prisoner secure.
When his leader came to check on him, they discovered the prisoner had escaped. The leader wondered how that could happen. Was the guard overpowered by the prisoner, or did some colleagues come and help the man escape? He asked the guard to explain. His explanation was, “While I was busy here and there, the prisoner escaped” (1 Kings 20:39-40). The guard had not stayed focused on his duty!
Stay focused on your purpose. A huge traffic jam recently occurred in Alabama where a truck driver took his hands off the wheel to pull out a loose tooth. He crashed his 18-wheeler along Interstate 20. While he grabbed hold of the troublesome tooth, he lost control, jack-knifed and veered off the road. He forgot about driving and focused on pulling his tooth. The highway patrol verified his dilemma when he said, “He had the tooth in his shirt pocket as proof!” But that did not untangle the traffic jam or fix his truck.
Remember, a lack of focus can paralyze you. Stay focused!
What is your FQ – Focus Quotient?