The soldier who leaves the post he is guarding, or the goalie who leaves the goal he is protecting or the farmer who leaves his fields to engage in action elsewhere are all as distracted as the one who is led astray by attractions.
Distractions destroy focus by involvement in unnecessary activity. The legitimacy of any work is dependent on its focus on your destiny or goal.
Nehemiah realised this and did not allow himself to be sidetracked from the work he was doing (Neh 6:1-14). Jesus set his face as flint to go to Jerusalem and was not dissuaded from fulfilling His work. Paul did the same and in spite of knowing bonds awaited him in Jerusalem, made it a point to go there.
In sharp contrast, in I Kings 13:1-32, a prophet became distracted and ended up dead.
An athlete or a racer or any competitor will not allow themselves to succumb to distractions. They cannot afford to, for even a millisecond can make the difference between winning and not doing so.
So it is necessary to be careful to guard focus, wear blinkers, like a horse, to avoid being turned aside by distractions.
Being distracted while driving can be fatal. Being distracted while performing an operation can harm rather heal the patient. Being distracted in the kitchen can cause burns and other accidents. Distractions have severe repercussions in whichever task you set out to do.
Jesus talked about thorns that choked the good seed – anxieties of this life, deceitfulness of riches and hankering after possessions. These are distractions to the growth of the right seed that will not allow it to mature. Distractions are destructive and deterrent to growth.
The Psalmist declared ‘one thing have I desired and that will I seek after’ (Ps 27) and the Apostle Paul said this one thing I do (Phil 3). These men were able to declare that they finished the race.
We live in world where attention deficiency is a major disorder with attention span being less than 10 mins. Reason: availability of multiple options, tendency for quick fixes, insecurity that promotes constant preoccupation, fear that fuels avaricious grasping, discontentment that leads to frenzied acquisitions and finally, languorous leisure that aspires for maximum gain with minimum effort. We have become like hothouse flowers that bloom quickly and fade even more faster.
Beware of distractions in the form of legitimate actions that detract you from reaching your goal. Distractions can come in the form of relationships that are a snare to our walk on the narrow path. Your compassionate concern can entangle you with people who make you drag your feet or turn you aside from the real path. Barnabas missed the mark of high calling to partner together in the gospel with Paul by choosing John Mark. People can ride on you like the old man on Sindbad’s back.
Have single-minded focus to conserve your energy and reach your target. Throw off the unnecessary weight that would divert and delay you on the path to destination. Identify and weed out things that drain and dissipate your attention so that you can sustain strength to the end. Deal with and destroy distractions that turn you aside and make you an also-ran rather than one who won the prize.