What is your FQ–focus quotient?

By Dr. John Ed Mathison
Executive Director
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries

One of my good friends in ministry was Dr. Bill Hinson.  We knew each other injohn ed 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?

John Ed’s blog posts appear in For His Glory each week.1
Contact: JAM Executive Suite 4,4131 Carmichael Road, Montgomery, AL 36106 Phone: 334-270-2149 Email:info@johnedmathison.org

1Listen to John Ed Mathison's one-minute daily devotional on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/johned.mathison/ and click “PLAY" on the audio YouTube in order to listen.  Or you can go to his ministry page at  https://www.facebook.com/JohnEdMathisonLeadershipMinistries/

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In the 19th century Milne joined a group of men known as “One Way Missionaries.”

Milne embarked on the mission but didn’t take a suitcase. He packed all his worldly belongings in a coffin. Milne and the other one-way-missionaries bought one-way tickets to their destinations, but no return ticket. They fully expected to spend the rest of their lives on mission and die on the mission field.¹

Milne spent decades loving on cannibals in a tribe in the New Hebrides in the South Pacific. He journeyed to their village knowing the cannibals had murdered every other missionary who went there.

When Milne died, the cannibals buried Milne in his coffin in the middle of their village. On his grave the cannibals wrote this epitaph:

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When he left, there was no darkness.

¹Source: All In small group Bible study by Mark Batterson

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Smart Chopsticks

By John Ed Mathison
Executive Director
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries

Health inspectors give a report each week on restaurants in the Riverjohn ed Region indicating a numerical score for how clean they are.  The report ends with Mark Bullard giving a robust “Clean Up!”   But what about the food the restaurant serves?  Is it pure – untainted?

The Chinese have now developed a pair of “smart chopsticks” that will help you gauge the quality of the food you are about to consume.  These chopsticks have been developed by the Chinese tech giant Baidu and they were recently displayed at a technology conference.

These chopsticks feature built-in sensors that “can detect oils containing unsanitary levels of contamination.”  They have named the chopsticks Kuaisou, and they link to a smartphone app, which displays a “good” or “bad” reading depending on the quality of the food’s cooking oil.  The smart chopsticks will also record temperature, nutritional information, and calories.

Evidently the Chinese markets have had some challenges with food quality scandals such as “gutter oil,” or cut-rate cooking oil made from recycled garbage and sewage that is used by some street vendors.  These smart chopsticks will help determine the quality of the food.

We can see where external things are clean or not.  But we sometimes have real difficulty seeing how pure and untainted ideas, philosophies, opportunities, etc. are.  How do we discern that?

One way is the use of our conscience.  The problem with the conscience is that it is oftentimes based on education, values taught as a child, etc. and cannot be totally dependable.  The conscience can also be dulled.

I like the definition of the conscience by a little boy who said, “It’s a three-cornered thing in my heart that stands still when I am good, but when I am bad it turns around and the corners hurt a lot.  If I keep on doing wrong the corners wear off and it doesn’t hurt anymore.”  Another kid defined conscience as “something that makes a kid tell his mother before his sister tells her.”  You can’t depend on your conscience.

We need God’s divine help.  His desire is to help us discern where there is evil, even though it is well disguised.  We are tempted to consume a lot of things intellectually that are “gutter oil” and recycled from garbage and sewage.  Check out some of the things we watch on television or see at the movies.

God’s spiritual chopsticks come from a close relationship to God like Paul had when he wrote, “It is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)  This relationship causes sensors to go off when we are about to consume something that would be unhealthy for us morally, intellectually, or spiritually.  The Chinese app is new.  God’s app has been around for thousands of years and it is the smartest app you can ever receive.

Eating food that is unclean can make you sick for a while.  Consuming things that are impure for our minds and souls can do permanent damage.

Do you have your “spiritual chopsticks” yet?  They carry with them a “life-back” guarantee that includes this life and eternal life.

Together

By John Ed Mathison
Executive Director
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries

An organization functions best when each person correctly accesses his/her gifts, thenjohn ed deploys those gifts as a part of a team effort. Organizations get into problems when some people try to assume responsibilities for which they are not gifted. Another deterrent to productivity is having one person think that his/her gifts are more important than another persons’.

A good model to follow is I Corinthians 12. Paul describes the church as the human body. My body has different parts, such as feet, hands, ears, eyes. My body does not function well if my eyes try to hear or my ears try to see. There is also dysfunction when one part of my body starts claiming that it is more important than another part. Each part is extremely important and essential for my body to function as a coordinated unit.

There is a beautiful example of this recently reported in China. A couple of eco-warriors in China are redefining what it means to work together. Jia Haixa is blind and Jia Wenqi is a double amputee who lost both his arms at age 3. They both found it very difficult to find a job.

In 2001, they decided to engage this basic principle. They began working together planting trees along the riverbank in their hometown of Hebei. Despite the fact that neither one of them could do the work by himself, they discovered that together they could accomplish amazing things. They saw their respective situations not as disabilities but as possibilities if they worked together. The 53-year-olds have now managed to plant 10,000 trees over the last 10 years!

Today they are making a modest living which is helpful to their families, but is also helping to protect their village from dangerous floods. Haixa says, “I am his hands. He is my eyes. We are good partners.” It is amazing what can happen when each person contributes his best gift to the work of the entire organization.

Working together is the “together” that makes for success. Sir Thomas Beecham, the eminent conductor of the London Symphony, on one occasion was the guest conductor in another venue and was frustrated with the seemingly undisciplined group of musicians. During the rehearsal the concert master asked Mr. Beecham how he wanted a particular section played. After a long pause, and with great emphasis, he replied, “Together!”

We may not have it all together, but together we have it all!

John Ed’s blog posts appear each week in For His Glory.
Contact: JAM Executive Suite 4,4131 Carmichael Road, Montgomery, AL 36106 Phone: 334-270-2149 Email:info@johnedmathison.org

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