Overcoming spiritual distractions is a continual journey for believers. I regularly speak with people who struggle to overcome spiritual distractions, and it affects me too. If you are anything like me, dissatisfaction and disappointment often create an environment where distraction runs wild. We focus on the wrong things and lose track of what it is that God is trying to do in us, or through us.
So what should we do?
How do we overcome spiritual distractions?
How do we get a breakthrough and overcome distraction
The answer is all about intent. The more intentional you are when it comes to your day to day the easier it will be to focus. Being intentional protects you from being pulled left and right by random thoughts and feelings. Being intentional means you respond from a place of truth, not from a place of emotion.
Being intentional means we no longer respond from a place of emotion, but from a place of truth.
Write The Vision – Make it Plain on tablets. So he may run who reads it. Hab 2:2 ESV
What are you looking at?
This verse in Habakkuk gives us some insight into what it takes to stay focused. The problem is usually we read this verse in a long term context. Pastors and leaders use this verse when they talk about church vision or long-range personal spirituality.
We think about this verse on January 1st when we are trying to plan the year. Typically we don’t think about “our vision” for the next 5 minutes and how that could help overcome a spiritual distraction.
Our vision isn’t just about what we have as a plan for our lives or our ministry or our passions. It is literally what we see right in front of us.
I think that being intentional about what we actually see is a part of the key to getting a breakthrough in this area.
The vision you have for your life won’t happen by accident. You will need to intentionally design it with the help and leading of the Holy Spirit.
Breakthrough with intentional distraction
As with a lot of things, trying to eliminate the issue requires thinking about and dealing with the issue. What generally happens is we think about the thing distracting us, and then we get focused on that rather than not being distracted at all.
Case in point … try not to think about a grilled cheese sandwich. Don’t think about it. Stop it. See…you can’t. How good are they btw…?
So let’s use that to our advantage instead of trying to always fight against it. Write the vision, make it plain.
In fact, I believe we can actually leverage our spiritual distractions.
We can purposefully and intentionally place distractions in our life that take us out of the mundane and into life-giving experiences. The point is that you need to structure your distractions into your life, instead of just letting them take you away into your imagination.
What if you set a notification, or an appointment reminder or emailed yourself every day. What if the message was super simple like, “Hey how are you today…? Tell Jesus one thing you are thankful for.”
How would your day change if you intentionally inserting a meaningful distraction?
Many people feel guilty that they don’t connect with God enough and often wrestle with spiritually connecting. You could accomplish the goal of connecting with the father and opening your day to Him by intentionally structuring your day
Your attention is being fought for
What do you see?
Major companies are specifically studying how our brains work when it comes to distraction so that they can use that to make addictive products. Sneaky right? Ya well, Facebook isn’t just a fluke…it taps into who we are as people on so many different levels.
But what if amongst the noise we could spin it back the other way…what if we could leverage distraction for the right reason?
What if we could purposefully and intentionally place distractions in our life so that instead of being 10 minutes into our Instagram feed we were 10 minutes into the Holy Spirit reminding us who we are?
What if life is inside the interruption?
We are going to have our attention interrupted. I think that even for the most focused of people there are times when they get distracted.
In fact, escapism or entertainment is probably unavoidable. The key is to be able to control the frequency of the interruptions and the duration of time while distracted.
One step further – giving it away
Let’s take this one step further. while we figure out how to impact our own lives, let’s also distract ourselves into someone else’s life. What if the most important activities in your day were looking for chances to give life to other people?
Why does it seem so hard to get ourselves out of our own stuff and give away life, love or faith to someone else?
Jesus was so good at not letting His own goals come at the expense of impacting other people. It seemed like He was always willing to share, always willing to love and always willing to not just be God but also be a real man.
How would it look if your daily email reminder was, “Hey…the answer is YES, you have something to give. Find someone around you to compliment or encourage. You have the spirit of God inside you!!”
How could life change if your daily distraction wasn’t just about you but also about how you could leverage your anointings, giftings and talents to impact others around you?
What did Jesus Do?
Jesus was often distracted by people during His day today and it was when He engaged with these people that we saw incredible things happen.
Think of the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:7. Jesus intentionally went to the well and when He was engaged by the woman He was willing to give life to her from His spirit. I know he was their intentionally because men were not supposed to be at the well at that time.
My challenge to us and to myself is, are we intentionally positioning ourselves to have these same opportunities?
He also knew that the woman was not supposed to be there at that time either. Women went to the well early in the morning because it was cooler. This woman was at the well in the middle of the day to avoid interaction with the other women.
Jesus knew that she was ashamed and that she needed life. Do you have somewhere that you could position yourself so that you could give away the life of Jesus inside you to another person?
What if your interruption came in the form of intentionally encouraging someone else?
Jesus was also distracted by the woman with the issue of blood when she reached out and touched Him in Matthew 9:20-22. In fact, it was such an important story that 3 of the 4 gospels recorded it. He wasn’t even trying to help her, He was just moving through the crowd but felt her faith pull life from Him when she touched Him. He was distracted and a miracle happened, He was able to encourage her and give to her at her greatest need.
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. Romans 12:11
Dissatisfaction creates the distraction
Dissatisfaction is usually amplified because you’re not filtering where you are and what you are doing through your identity. If your complaint is tied to your work, or your situation you need to take a step back. God probably doesn’t have you where you are because of where you are but because of who you are!
Who you are doesn’t change because of your job or because of your relationship, or because of anything. Who you are is set and established in Christ…it’s figuring out who that person is and then acting in faith based on that knowledge. Dissatisfaction in life comes because we get caught up in where we are and what we are doing.
Do you think people in the bible were always pumped about where they were?
David taking care of sheep and preparing lunch?
Moses out in the wilderness?
Jesus in the desert?
Nope probably not…but who they were and their value didn’t change because of their location.
Take a minute to think about who you really are. Instead of your job title, think about what Jesus has created you for. The key to breaking dissatisfaction is acting based on who you are.
So what should I do?
Here is a step by step plan you can use to help restructure your day today.
- Deal with your dissatisfaction. I get it…you may not be doing what it is that you are really passionate about and you’re frustrated and it is constantly pulling your emotions in all kinds of directions. The key is to identify it and then make a plan to fix it. Maybe a job change is what you need, but that may only act as a bandaid for what is really going on.
- Take some time to figure out if there are underlying issues that need to be dealt with
- Change the question from why am I here to why am I here. Put the emphasis on figuring out why God has you where you are. Satisfaction comes when we are using the gifts and talents that God has given us regardless of the circumstances. So I would recommend really working on who you are and then being that in your environment.
- Identify Distractions. Are there any re-occurring distractions that you can identify? Do they come at a certain time, or from a certain person? Potentially the answer to that particular distraction is removing the source. Does love or faith contribute?
- Write a Vision. Get some paper out or a new document and start to write out a vision for your day today. What do you want it to look like?
- Implement Intentional distractions. As mentioned above, I think you need to write your vision. Spend some time thinking about what you actually want your day to look like. Then put things in place that will intentionally get you that vision. You have so many tools at your disposal to help you. Notifications, emails, calendar, to-do lists…etc. Start putting things in there that remind you to connect with God and then take his spirit and share it with the people around you. It’s probably why you are there in the first place. God doesn’t do all the work, he partners with us in the places we are to reach the people who need Him. It’s how it works. Who could you impact today?