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!
Being sidetracked can happen to anyone. Our attention is directed away from our primary focus or activity, toward something of lesser importance. Consequently, we don’t get done what we intended to get done.
We failed to follow through on our original intentions and goals. We lose focus. We get off the main highway and begin to follow bunny trails. Often, we are totally unaware that this is happening to us. It takes a while to realize what has happened. We find ourselves a bit perplexed. Our confusion often leads to frustration and irritation.
Routinely, as we get older, this seems to happen more frequently. We find ourselves walking into a room and then wondering why we did. But be of good cheer, forgetting a few things is not a sign of early-onset dementia. But if it’s ever happened to you, it sometimes feels like it.
Just like the United States Marines, the Father is looking for a few good men and women. During Old Testament times, among the children of the King, there was a special subset: His servants the prophets. The Father’s prophets were His representatives, His envoys. They were often sent to deliver a message. They could not be easily deferred. They did not back down or get sidetracked.
The Father explained this simply and succinctly to Jeremiah as a part of his prophetic commission.
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!
The book of Proverbs is full of Solomon’s great wisdom. It was parsimoniously summarized in Proverbs 4.
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, it is so easy to be sidetracked and get off course. Help me to respond better to the vicissitudes of everyday life. Help me not to be discouraged by the frustrations and disappointments I encounter.
To avoid being sidetracked, it is important to develop the skill of focused concentration. It 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:
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 irritations 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?
Distractions are always crouching at the door: conflicting thoughts, uncontrollable emotions, bothersome sounds, offenses and slights, 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).
Jeremiah 15:19 If you extract the precious from the worthless, you will become My spokesman.
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.