Stay Focused

My business partner and I provide strategic planning consulting services for local governments. We use a slightly different approach to the traditional planning process where, instead of focusing on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, we talk about strategic focus areas and the principles that guide them. Every community or organization has them. Sometimes they are found in mission or value statements but often they are representative of the things important to the community. For example, every city, no matter its size, will focus on fiscal sustainability and transparency. In the past, strategic planning often focused on dreaming big – “what would we do if nothing stood in our way” thinking. In today’s reality, there are plenty of things to get in the way, so we ask our clients what is it that they are focused on and what principles are they based in.

People, for the most part, can be the same – what are you focused on and what principles are those focused areas based in. Ask yourself, what am I focused on? How do you spend your time and what do you get from it? I’m not suggesting that if you spend your time watching TV for a couple hours at night and you’re not getting anything out of it and that you should stop; I am suggesting that if ALL you do is watch TV when you aren’t at work, perhaps you can focus some time elsewhere. Once you determine what you are focused on, you can start to drill in to why you do it and how you will do it. Bringing these things into perspective can help guide the choices that you make.

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of faith. For the joy set before Him, He endured on the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

Talk about focus, Jesus had to keep His eye on where He was heading. Satan tried to blur Jesus’ focus when he tempted Him for 40 days. When God’s plan for His death was revealed to Him, Jesus remained focused on His goal of saving the lost. Even as He carried His own cross, Jesus remained focused on the goal of joining His Father in Heaven and defeating the devil once and for all. There were plenty of things to distract Him – fame, power, faithful disciples and the broken moral structure of the society that He lived in; yet Jesus remained focused.

His strategic focus was saving the world and He based that focus on the guiding principles established by God – the Ten Commandments. Because of His focus, we can drill in to being good and faithful servants. Jesus took with Him, in His death, our sin and the guilt of breaking these principles. This freedom from sin allows us to focus on the teachings of Jesus and the Word of God. We can find our daily principles spelled out in the bible and maintain our focus on God. Spend some time reinforcing those principles and make time with God a strategic focus area.

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Tempting, isn’t it?

Temptation is everywhere; don’t we all know it? Sometimes it shows itself at Costco when we see a “deal that we can’t pass up” or it shows up at work when we don’t need to “tell the whole story” or we agree to get “creative with the accounting” because our boss told us to. I’m talking about the temptations that shape us as people, not those that tempt our waistlines or will power like a donut or one more glass of wine. The people in our lives, the experiences that we’ve had and what we’ve been taught all shape our morals and values. Values are the inner judgments that determine how we will behave and morals are about how we execute those judgments. While some people interchange those definitions, it is clear that they both influence how we behave. When we experience no negative consequences from “deceiving or cheating” our brain stamps it “okay for future use”. We will continue to deceive ourselves until there are consequences and we “re-learn” to do it another way. The best way to continue to train our brains is to keep doing the right thing, even when no one is looking, be people of integrity. If we give in, we are only deceiving ourselves and that will have life-long implications.

Romans 13:12 – “…let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”

An armor of light sounds awesome, doesn’t it? I envision a brilliant white, shining armor chest plate and a matching shield. What can’t you defeat with such protection? We know, of course, that the white armor is the protection given to us from our savior, Jesus Christ. He has clothed us in white as we go through our lives “not guilty” of sin because of what He did for us. We must guard that our light does not dim and we remain true to our Father, God in Heaven and to His Son, our savior. We dim every time we submit to darkness. When we do not live, as God wants us to, we dim our light. The good news however, is that our confession of those sins and our faith in Jesus Christ allows our light to shine brightly once more. We all know people who have fallen into darkness. We have a responsibility to shine our light on their lives and show them the way. Reassure them that they too, can put on an armor of light by turning their lives back toward God and then “get fitted for their suit” through Jesus Christ. We do not have to live in darkness; Jesus is our light and He is always ready to keep our light shining bright.