Don’t get sidetracked
Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil. – Proverbs 4:27
Jeremiah 15:19 If you return to me, I will restore you so you can continue to serve me. If you speak good words rather than worthless ones, you will be my spokesman. You must influence them; do not let them influence you!
When one is sidetracked, they are distracted from following through on their original intentions and goals. We lose focus. Rather than staying on course we get distracted. We get off the main highway and begin to follow bunny trails. Often, this is done totally unawares. It takes a while to realize what’s happened. We find ourselves a bit perplexed. Our confusion often leads to frustration and irritation.
As we get older, this happens more frequently. We find ourselves walking into a room and then forgetting why we did so. Take solace, however, forgetting a few things is not the same thing as early-onset dementia. But if it’s ever happened to you, it feels like it.
Like the United States Marines, the Father is looking for a few good men and women. Within this group of people, there is a special subset: His servants the prophets. The Father’s prophets are His representatives, His envoys. They are often sent to deliver a message. They must not back down and they must not get sidetracked.
The Father explained this simply and succinctly to Jeremiah as a part of his prophetic commission.
Jeremiah 15:19 Before Me you will stand; And if you extract the precious from the worthless, you will become My spokesman. They for their part may turn to you, but as for you, you must not turn to them.
The Father parsimoniously summarized Solomon’s wisdom.
23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
25 Look straight ahead and fix your eyes on what lies before you.
26 Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path.
27 Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.
REFLECT & PRAY
The Father uses distractions to urge us into a deeper relationship with Him.
Father, help me to respond better to the frustrations and disappointments of everyday life.
To avoid being sidetracked, developing the skill of focused concentration should be a top priority. Staying on task requires discipline and practice. Learning to focus and stay focused is a science and art that can be learned. How can we diminish getting sidetracked? By learning to deal with distractions effectively. This often leads to improved focus and increased effectiveness. Some suggestions:
- Avoid panic
Our confusion and sense of being out of control can lead to panic. There is often a lot of blaming and self-condemnation. Negative emotions only make matters worse. However, positive emotions and thoughts do the opposite.
What can be done? How do we avoid a negative downward spiral? For children of the King, reading and meditating on the Scriptures can be quite calming to the spirit. Recalling the Father’s promises in the face of our irritation can break the power of our errant propensities. As we turn irritations, frustrations, and burdens over to the Father. He will take care of us.
Psalm 27:13 Where would I be if I did not believe I would experience the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living?
- Slow down
Distractions are always crouching at the door: conflicting thoughts, uncontrollable emotions, bothersome sounds, or simple interruptions.
What can we do? To prevent distractions from stealing our focus, apply the brakes. We have two main options: ignore the distraction or set a mental placeholder and deal with the distraction. When finished, refocus.
Psalms 66:9 Our lives are in his hands, and he keeps our feet from stumbling.
- Take a break
Sometimes we just ran out of gas mentally and our focus diminishes. Shift to a temporary new activity and give your mind a break. Often physical activity will allow us to reset. An amazing thing happens when we consciously shift our focus to something else, our brain unconsciously continues to work on the problem. When we return, often we are flooded with new ideas and potential solutions.
Psalms 119:67 I used to wander off until you disciplined me; but now I closely follow your word.
God uses discipline, not as a whip to force us in line, but as a messenger to urge us back into a safe place. Correction is a bridge to a deeper relationship with God (Stanley).
The prophets had a special responsibility, to live a life without compromise. In their thoughts and words. What really mattered? The precious! They needed to develop the skill of learning to extract the precious from the worthless. To accurately represent the Father and be His spokesman, literally His mouth, they had to live by a higher standard. They could not entertain worthless ideas and speak worthless words.
The same is true for any child of the King.