What Are You Aiming For? The Value of Overcoming Distractions and Establishing a Clear Life Mission.

What turned my thinking around wasn’t pulling myself up by my own boot straps and deleting Facebook off my phone. I needed to have my mind renewed by God’s word. Picking a spot on a target is just the beginning of a good shot.

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by Jim Richman on January 25, 2017

“Pick a spot.” It reminds me of a line from the blockbuster film  “The Patriot”(2000). As Mel Gibson sets up an ambush on a group of unsuspecting Redcoats with his young sons, he reminds them “Aim small, miss small.”  It’s one of the most elementary, overlooked, but helpful bits of advice you’ll ever receive in shooting.

It makes perfect sense if your equipment is sighted in well. Using this theory, the smaller, more focused the area is you are trying to hit, the margin of error becomes far less. That’s why an archer may choose to aim for a heart shot. The heart is the smallest target in the vital area, but he knows that by aiming and hitting close to the heart, if he wavers slightly, there’s a good chance he will hit the next best thing, lungs. Conversely, by slinging an arrow at a large section of the animal, our aim is much less focused and it opens our shot up to not hitting a vital mark at all.

I used to read Proverbs 16 in a very fatalistic way. “The heart of a man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” I would read this and ask, “If I plan my way, but God establishes my steps, what’s the point in planning at all? Why shouldn’t I just take life as it comes. Expect the worst and hope for the best right?” That’s not what this passage means. Solomon wasn’t condemning wise, discerning, humble,honest, gracious, God honoring planning. He was however warning against planning that was arrogant, prideful, deceitful, graceless, senseless, and unwise. I was so far off because I was assuming that the very prospect of having a clear life mission was immediately going to displease God, therefore, I shouldn’t make plans for me or my family. What I became was a distracted, visionless leader.

What turned my thinking around wasn’t pulling myself up by my own boot straps and deleting Facebook off my phone. I needed to have my mind renewed by God’s word. Picking a spot on a target is just the beginning of a good shot. I knew I needed to be a better leader and pick the direction God wanted me to lead. But that’s when the work actually began. The daily struggle to stay in mission can be overwhelming. Our behaviors and habits have to change, we have to be able to sniff out distractions, and also apply ourselves fully to whatever the work is at hand.


Overcoming Distraction

I’m absolutely no guru when it comes to teaching people how to fight against being distracted. It’s amazing how simple it is to press one thing on our phone and run down a 45 minute rabbit hole. Social Media Today reported in 2017 that people spent nearly 2 hours per day on social media. It’s pretty clear that I could tell you to delete certain apps or download certain plugins on your computer, but the reality is, you’re going to find a way to be distracted if what you are doing doesn’t have value to you. What’s really sad is that often, our families actually get the full force of our distractedness as we sit mindlessly scrolling on what we consider to be, “our free time”. The best way I’ve found to overcome distraction is to set clear boundaries that are well guarded. Give those things their time when it is appropriate, and do so by planning well. The basic principle is that you have to set a standard for yourself that you will work to meet at all costs. We live in a world that glorifies distractions. The problem with glorifying distractions is that there is always a transaction. Is family time worth sacrificing to answer an email?


Establishing Your Mission

Often when we set out on a life mission, we don’t have the end goal in mind, or the end goal might be far too general and unattainable. If we don’t have a life mission at all,we just have to take the hits as they come and hope that things will work out. If we choose a goal that is too general, it’s just like not picking our aiming point. We allow distractions to creep in, and then we’re left wondering what in the world we are doing.

Patrick Hull, contributor to Forbes.com, wrote an excellent article in 2012 unpacking the core ideas of a personal mission statement:

  • Include specific and attainable goals. Don’t be vague and aim for something you’re unlikely to reach, which will set you up for failure.

  • Outline how you plan to achieve those goals. Just listing your goals is only half the battle. You must consider how you will get there.

  • Hold yourself accountable by asking a mentor, business partner, or a trusted advisor to meet with you quarterly to discuss the progress on your personal goals and mission statement.

I’m not sure why, but some Christians tend to think that our lives operate outside a system of natural consequence. Almost as though we are supposed to live day to day and wait for the manna and quail to fall from heaven. Here’s the trouble; Israel had to eat manna and quail because they chose to disobey God and literally had no way of getting anything else. God would have provided much more for them in the promised land, but instead they chose to place their ability (or lack thereof) to understand their current situation above being obedient to God’s design. God knows that we have to plan our way in this world. He knows that we have families, that we have jobs, that we have schedules, and he understands all of that far better than we ever could. What’s more, is that he too has put a plan in place. He’s revealed it to us in his word. Will we align our plans to his? That’s where Proverbs 16:3 comes in. “Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established.” Plan God’s way, work God’s way, live God’s way.

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