How many times have you heard a coach plead with his or her team to focus? How many times have you lost your focus during a workout, practice, or game? We’ve all lost our focus and failed to concentrate on the details of execution. We forget to take the proper first step on a block or to set our feet properly on a jump shot. As a coach, I know there have been times when I have lost my focus and made poor in-game decisions.
Every competitor struggles to stay focused. Distractions are numerous and managing those distractions is a difficult task. When we aren’t focused we don’t compete up to our God-given potential and we lose sight of what we are truly trying to accomplish in competition: to glorify God as we Compete4Christ. As Christians, we should care about being the best we can be, but we should care even more about making sure we don’t lose sight of our “why.” Why we compete is more important than how we compete.
The Cares of This World
Recently, I took to Twitter and asked all the @Compete4Christ followers when it is hardest to stay focused on competing for Christ. Check out the results of my Twitter poll below:
When is it hardest for you to keep your focus and truly #Compete4Christ?
— Compete4Christ (@Compete4Christ) December 15, 2015
As you can see, the @Compete4Christ followers indicated that it was hardest to stay focused on their “why” when they are losing. But look at the survey again. From a statistical analysis perspective there wasn’t really a clear winner in the survey.
The results of the Twitter poll reveal the obvious: the cares of this world often distract us from what matters most.
Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.–Matthew 13:7
As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.–Matthew 13:22
Competition can be a tremendous tool that we use for God’s glory, but it can also become a distraction that pulls us away from God an entangles us in the cares of this world.
Finding a Focal Point
We all have our good days and our bad days. Some days we stay focused on glorifying God and somedays we get consumed by the cares of this world. We need a constant reminder; something that helps us to refocus and submit to the Holy Spirit even in the most intense moments of competition. This constant reminder is what I call a focal point.
A focal point is something I first learned from Wes Neal in his book The Handbook on Athletic Perfection. Neal describes a focal point as something you can quickly concentrate on that snaps your focus back on your ultimate ambition in sports: to glorify God. Focal points can be many things. It might be a wristband you wear or a banner on the wall of your gym. It can be just about anything. The key is that it is something you can see at anytime and that it really does what it supposed to do.
Here are a few things I have used as focal points over the years:
- My Compete4Christ wristband (Warning: shameless plug. You can buy yours here)
- A cross printed on my offensive game plan
- A verse printed on my offensive game plan
- A unique part of the scoreboard (this way whenever I checked the time and score I would see that unique part of the scoreboard and refocus)
I have found that if you use the same focal point for too long it tends to fade and become part of the norm. When that happens you don’t notice it as much and it’s no longer doing it’s job. As a result, I have sort of rotated through these focal points and never used any one of them for too long.
- Remember, sports can be a great tool for your sanctification or a foothold for the Devil. Focal points are a great way to help make sure you’re concentrating on glorifying God and submitting to the Holy Spirit.
- Focal points can take many forms. The key is that you can see them at any time and that they actually do what they are supposed to. It’s up to you find/create them.
- Rotate through focal points so that they don’t fade into the background and lose their efficacy.
For some of our readers brainstorming focal points can be tough. Please take a minute and share your ideas for focal points in the comments section.