Greater Focus

Written by Richard Pidgley (Birmingham UK)

Richard Pidgley is married to Lynne, has two adult sons and two super cute grandsons. Richard is an AoG minister who leads Millpool Hill Church in Birmingham U.K. Richard has an MA in missional leadership and loves to teach the Word of God. He also loves early morning trail running.

December 10, 2023

What do we mean by focus?
It can mean the centre of activity or attention.
For example, the focus of the meeting was to discuss a new running shoe.
Focus is also a point of concentration; it’s where we are directing our attention or an area of emphasis.
Focus also describes a state or condition, clear perception or understanding.

We can all suffer from a lack of focus which causes problems like missing deadlines, not achieving our goals, lack of productivity, and even worse problems in social interactions and relationships.
Lack of focus can be caused by poor sleeping patterns, poor nutrition, failure to exercise properly, distractions from electronic devices/social media, stress, impending burnout, relationship issues, and other factors.

Question: Are you suffering from a lack of focus in your life? If so, can you identify what is causing it? 

We can refocus by simply stepping away from the chaos of our busy lives to spend time reflecting on what areas are not working for us.
After identifying what is causing our lack of focus, we can prayerfully make some adjustments so that we can concentrate more effectively on our goals and achieve them. 

WHEN IT COMES TO RUNNING, WE NEED GREATER FOCUS!

Runners need to set their running goals, which could include

  • A couch-to-5K plan.
  • Progressing from a 5K to a 10K.
  • Training for a race.
  • Achieving new personal bests.
  • Building up to a half marathon, a marathon, or even an ultra marathon!

Question: What is your running goal? What steps are you taking to achieve it?

Once a goal has been set, discipline is needed to achieve the goal.
That’s where focus comes in.
We have to lock onto our targets like a guided missile and not be deterred by counter measures which often come in the form of excuses such as ‘I’m not feeling it today’, ‘It’s too hot/cold to run’, or ‘I don’t think I have time to train this week.’ 

Life is full of distractions, so runners need to decide why they are running and ask themselves how much they really want to achieve their goals, because ultimately it’s going to be your discipline and focus that gets you across the finish line. 

SO HOW CAN WE DEVELOP GREATER FOCUS IN OUR RUNNING?

1. Define the main reasons why you run. 

We all feel fatigue build when running longer distances.
We all have runners aches and pains, but through this, we need to focus on WHY we run because if we focus on WHY, we will understand the temporary discomfort is nothing compared to the joy of knowing our running is beneficial physically, mentally, and spiritually. 

2. Pay attention to how you’re performing.

As humans, we compare ourselves to others all the time.
We shouldn’t worry about everyone else’s statistics and abilities as other people are not running to achieve your goal.
We need to have a greater focus on how we are doing in our own running.
Are you stretching properly before and after running?
When did you last pay attention to core strength exercises?
Are you ignoring a ‘niggle’ that may become an impending injury? 

3: Keep your eyes upon the finish line.

I’m not saying ignore the mile you’re in, because part of the joy of running for many of us is to soak up all that creative glory of God surrounding you.
In fact, I was trail running one evening recently with a friend who runs trail ultras.
He was just firing up after we had run around ten miles cross country and up some brutal hills while I was running out of gas!
Although I loved running through the stunning countryside, I knew that I needed to keep my eyes on the finish line as an incentive to keep going and not give up.
I knew my finish line would herald a half marathon, which was a great run for me, so I kept sight of that glorious end!  

It was focus that caused Nehemiah to say to the enemies distracting him, ‘No I’m not coming to meet with you!’ (Nehemiah 6:3)
Nehemiah knew he was doing a great work, he was locked onto his target, totally focused on achieving his mission of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.
There was no way he was going to be distracted.
What are your running goals?
You may have high aspirations, but to achieve them, you will need to increase your focus.
Otherwise, daily distractions will prevent you from reaching your target.

WHEN IT COMES TO OUR SPIRITUAL LIVES, WE NEED GREATER FOCUS.

Possibly one of the greatest verses mentioning running in the Bible is found in Hebrews 12:1-2 where we read,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honour beside God’s throne.

Hebrews 12:1-2

This verse is all about focus!
For us as Christians, our focus is all about keeping our eyes upon Jesus!
The world system wants to weigh us down, sin wants to trip us up, but we have a race to run and Jesus is our glorious finish line! The Hymn writer penned…

‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus – Look full into his wonderful face, 

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace’

THERE ARE NO SHORTS CUTS TO ANY PLACE WORTH GOING. 

If we want to be like Paul who said, ‘I have finished my race, I have kept the faith’ (2 Timothy 4:7), we need to have a greater focus on our spiritual disciplines that will help us run with our eyes upon Jesus.
We need to have a greater focus on:

  1. Worship.
  2. Prayer.
  3. Reading and applying the God’s Word.
  4. A lost world and the need to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Prayer & Reflection: 

What adjustments do you need to make to your life to have a greater focus on spiritual disciplines? 

Prayer: 

Father – help me to have greater focus so I can achieve my running goals for your glory. 

Father – help me to focus on you so I can run through life and not grow weary. 

Father – help me run like the women from the empty tomb that first Easter with the message of the risen Christ upon my lips to bring hope to others.  

Father – help me to run with greater focus and discipline both physically and spiritually.

Father – help me to always run for Your glory and run with my eyes focused upon Jesus. Amen.

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