By Amos Dada PhD; P.Eng
It is with delight that I welcome you to another new month, the month of March our month of, ‘Avoiding Distractions’. My sincere prayer for you is that from this month you will no more be distracted, you will no more distract yourself rather you will achieve your goals and life purpose. Instead of distraction I pray that you shall march forward in your life, your marriage, you business, your career and your ministry and calling. In every area that you have experienced distractions the power of God will enable you to overcome and grant you uncommon focus.
Let me be honest with you it took me an extra sense of duty, responsibility and purpose and the fact that I have to have a theme for this month to prepare this message. There were a lot of distractions, from praying for a theme, to and eventually sitting up to write. Many things were calling for my attention, the phone ringing, a church member that needs urgent attention that cannot wait, Whatsapp messages blipping, Facebook, Email, Messenger, Twitter, Periscope notifications are showing up on my iPhone, someone ringing the door bell, my granddaughter wanting me to watch something on her iPad, my wife wanting me to watch her favourite show on TV, Family Feud. What a generation of distractions!!
I was forced to look up afresh the meaning of ‘distraction’ this is what I found -a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else.An activity that diverts the mind, from tedious or serious concerns. Synonyms include but are not limited to diversion, interruption, disturbance, interference, hindrances, deviation and deflection. Distraction is the process of diverting the attention of an individual or group from the desired area of focus and thereby blocking or diminishing the reception of desired information. Distractions have become major issues, and I trust the Holy Spirit prompting us in this direction this month is out to help you maximize your time on earth.
Categories of Distractions
There are categories of distractions. Long term and life goal distractions, with monumental consequences. There are distractions from immediate goals, which could be just as devastating. Even though it may appear to have less impact, that in itself is difficult to conclude, because missing an interview for one minute may cause one to miss his or her destiny in life. Just losing concentration in driving may be for a split of second, but it can result into crashing to other vehicles. Talking about vehicular distraction there are three types, visual: taking your eyes off the road; manual: taking your hands off the wheel; and cognitive: taking your mind off of driving. Suddenly because of one minute distraction generations of life are cut short. There are marital distractions, spiritual distractions, academic distractions, social media distractions are the threat of our time. For every technological development there are side effects. It is important to know there are some distractions you can control and those you cannot control. The goal for you for this month is to develop the attitude of identifying potential distractions and preventing them.
Why Avoid Distractions?
The story was told of a Professor, who gave an assignment to a student. By the time the student got his paper back , he saw research- excellent, presentation-excellent, overall grade F.When he asked the professor for this unexplainable contradiction, the professor said you did not do the assignment I gave you. The meaning of that is that you stand the danger of being distracted from your life purpose. God forbid will be your prayer and mine.
My prayer is that your entire life will not be distracted. Imagine being distracted and marrying the wrong partner. I know young bachelors and spinsters who were dating and were considered ‘ a perfect match’ for themselves and the man had a one night affair with another woman , who immediately got pregnant and he was forced to marry her, he is living his life in misery and regret. I remember we were three friends in High school, two of us were good and strong in maths the third person who was good in arts joined the two of us that were good in math and today he is living to regret it.
Why you must avoid distractions, because with distractions the possibility of achieving your target is remote, the purpose of distraction is to slow you down. Samson was a peculiar child of Mr & Mrs Manoah, God spoke to them of a peculiar child he was giving to them and his purpose was to deliver Israel from their enemies. Samson was totally distracted by pursuing strange women in the camp of the enemies he was supposed to fight; he ended up dying in their hands instead of conquering them. Judas was a special friend of Jesus, he got distracted by gold, how many of our generation have been distracted by silver and gold. What of Demas, (2Tim 4:10-12) His contemporaries were Luke,Mark they wrote synoptic gospels he ended up in oblivion. Another couple worth mentioning are Saphira , Annanias they were distracted by the inability to manage success and prosperity. You avoid distractions because it has the capacity of preventing you from being whom you are destined to be, or reaching the height you were to reach in life.
Ecclesiastics put it in a philosophical way: “I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth.” Ecc 10:7Young students who are destined to be on top of their classes get distracted with issues of boyfriends/girlfriends and where do they end, with teenage pregnancy , early parenting and they end up at the lower part of society ladder. They were to be professors in the universities but end up becoming cleaners in the same ivory tower, begging for minimum wages.
Do you think the bulk of those in the prisons are supposed to be there, I say no, they were distracted ,someone introduced them to vices, cigarettes smoking, alcohol consumption, cocaine and heroin pedlars. I will never forget as a young boy in Form 2 (equivalent of middle school here) one of the elderly boys in our class, invited me to come and smoke- taste it, it is nice’ he said. I had the courage at that level, to tell him, ‘smoke coming out of your mouth and nose is nice, you need your head examined.’
Before I leave this subtitle it is important to discuss the effect the distraction of social media has brought upon us. Let us be honest, when we woke up in those days, parents call for prayer on the family altar and similarly before we go to bed. Young men and women would spend some quiet time with the Lord. You would get your bible, a devotional; a pen and paper, for minimum of fifteen minutes to an hour peruse the bible, distill nuggets and get the Rhema world that helped you to navigate the serious issues of the day. Today the situation has totally changed, unfortunately not for the better we wished for. Social media has replaced, those golden times, we wake up now watching video clips on WhatsApp, YouTube, Vimeo,checking our emails, Facebook, Instagram, don’t forget we use our hashtags to send messages on Twitter.
We have all been distracted from reading the bible, what do we get, half-baked Christians. Christians not properly rooted in the word. We must avoid these unnecessary new generation derived and imposed lifestyle distractions; we need to get back on track and become whom God has designed us to be. So many unholy distractions have weighed heavily on the church values. The ministers are so distracted now that to get church to grow it is no more about prayer and fasting but motivational speakers and comedians on the altars. The question we forget to ask is what is the end result?
To build a people that will build the nation we must avoid distractions. Prosperity messages have distracted the church a high percentage of those hounded in Africa for corruption by anti- corruption agencies are Christians who sit in the front rows of the church, sit in the corridors of power as Politicians in the three arms of government, executive, legislative and judiciary.
We are so distracted with these fast paced microwave social media messages that we are raising a generation that does not see the necessity of God and the church. Oh that we would weigh the consequences of distractions and do our best to avoid these senseless and mindless distractions that are leading humanity to eternity without God.
How to Deal With Distractions
Let us use the life of Nehemiah to study how to handle distractions. Nehemiah was a displaced, refugee immigrant that eventually found himself as a cupbearer in the presidency of Babylonians. He discovered his purpose was to rebuild the falling gates of Jerusalem. With the king’s permission he set out to rebuild Jerusalem. In the ” In Touch devotional”, we learn the importance, of Nehemiah’s strategy of dealing with distractions.
1.Remain in the center of God’s will .Knowing we are right where God wants us will give us confidence to move through trials without being sidetracked.
- Remember what your goal is. Nehemiah knew that the Lord’s priority for him was to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. God has also planned things for us to do, and His work is always of great value. We are not to underestimate our part, no matter how small it seems to us.
In 2001, when I eventually re-located to Canada with the instruction, by God, “to put Canada on the spiritual map of the world”. Can you imagine someone from Igede- Ekiti in the Western part of Nigeria for that assignment? It gave birth to The International Gathering of Eagles Conferences. We held the conference only in Toronto in 2003 until 2007 when the Lord instructed us to take it around the world – with the message of, “Raising an Eagle Generation”. A people who will not be distracted, a people who will live a life of integrity and focus on it. The enemy wanted to distract us, but we kept our focus on God’s instruction. Today by the grace of God, by 2016 we had taken that conference to over 20 nations.
- Ensure you accomplish each task. Following every crisis, Nehemiah returned to the task at hand. By Keeping the Lord’s goal in mind, we’ll be able to stay in our God appointed place. Carry out each step, and remain on course. Read Romans 12.
- Identity your distractors. He identified the likes of Sanballat, Tobias and Geshem as agents of distraction. Yours may not be as clear cut because of friendly foes in our society. Recognize them, deal with them but never ignore them. The likes of Harman wanted to distract the Jews, but Mordecai and Esther were focused and God dealt with him.
- Distractions have potential to get us off track. Gossip, criticism, financial pressure, poor health, conflict, desires, praise singers. Any of these can cause us to turn away from God’s perfect plan. But scripture gives us a role model to emulate in Nehemiah (Nehemiah 4:1-6:16)
He was single-minded. He feared God. He obeyed God. He was accountable. The king wanted progress reports on what Nehemiah was accomplishing .One day we will stand before Jesus, our King, and give an account for how we used our resources, talents and gifts on earth! ( I Cor 3:12-15)
- At every stage of the assignment Nehemiah prayed. On his own, in the palace, with his team, he overcame distraction on his knees. To overcome distractions we must go back to our knees. I hear you say that is one area we have been majorly distracted, yes, but there is no replacement for prayer. Whether as an individual, family, church, corporation, nation and region, the word of God is,” if my people who are called by my name shall humble themselves and pray…. I will heal their land. Meaning I will take away their distractions.
- How do you deal with social media distractions? Stop signing up for new apps. Delete some of the old apps you have that are just consuming your time. If checking email is eating away at your productivity, or email alerts are preventing you from focusing on your work, disable those beeps and bloops, and turn off the new message notifications that pop into the corner of your screen as you’re working. Schedule a few windows throughout the day to intentionally check your email, instead checking it habitually. As a pastor leave your phone on your table in the office when you go to the altar. Remember you are not obligated to answer every call. I went to minister in a church recently and I took some youth in my car. They used my phone to take some pictures. When we got to the car on our way home they were so concerned about recharging the phone because the battery ran down, but they burst into laughter when I said they should allow it to remain dead! Folks, there was a time when there were no cell phones! I am not denying the importance of technology, how they have made our world better in terms of communication. But in Toronto the police gave staggering statistics of causes of accidents the number one cause used to be alcohol, now it is texting.If you have to text, park, if your life is not valuable to you other people’s lives should be.
- Others. Sometimes, the best way to avoid distractions is to literally move yourself away from it. If you work from home or are involved in creative endeavors, pick a place where you can work comfortably for long periods of time. This could be a small corner desk, a well-lit sunroom or your favorite coffee shop. The point is to surround yourself with an atmosphere that makes completing tasks easier. Avoid procrastination it is a major distraction because it allows you to convince yourself that you’ll be better off performing a task when you feel more prepared. Once you realize that you’ll never get anything done unless you do it now, you won’t feel so tempted to put things of .Sometimes you have to remind yourself to actively focus. Many people never truly learn how to stay focused and find it difficult to keep their minds from wandering when there’s work to be done. Try to shut off your own mental distractions so that you can zero in on checking items off your to-do list. It’s not enough to simply know that you need to focus; you have to apply yourself to the action you’re performing in the moment.
Conclusion: You are not reading this piece to entertain yourself, (you could easily be watching a comedy or movie on YouTube or other channels) neither is it just to acquire knowledge for fun the author did not write just for intellectual attention. The purpose is to create an alarm in your mind from this day forward, am I being distracted, or have been distracted and how do I get back on track. May thy Lord help you to avoid DISTRACTIONS.