It’s easy to be distracted. I do a lot of driving and see how easy it is to take my eyes off the road. I’ve watched others doing all kinds of things besides driving.
I see drivers texting, putting on make up (how do women drive and apply mascara at the same time?), eating, yelling at their kids, and even reading.
So much of life is about paying attention and avoiding distractions. As a parent, I’ve realized part of my job is to keep my kids focused on their homework. I’m also responsible for their schedules. Between school, sports, and birthday parties for friends, my kids’ calendars stay full.
My kids rely on my wife and me to teach them how to focus on homework, clean their room, behave properly in public, and a host of other important things they wouldn’t pay attention to naturally.
As an adult I’ve realized there’s always something that can distract me from what’s most important. I may want to watch a Cardinals game when I should be mowing the lawn. Or I might take a nap one Sunday afternoon when I could be playing catch with the kids.
Distractions take lots of forms. Families get distracted from what matters most all the time. Parents may spend all their time focused on their children’s “careers,” believing they’re raising the next sports star or American Idol winner.
In reality, these parents need to get a life, to develop their own interests. Their children become their life, a vehicle through which they try to fulfill their own unrealized dreams.
The Christian faith has a rich heritage of encouraging people to pay attention to themselves. An ancient Christian leader, Irenaeus, wrote, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.” What does it mean to be fully alive? It can mean paying attention to each day, seeing life as a gift that shouldn’t be wasted.
Jesus once taught his followers an important rule. He said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
The idea is simple, a golden rule. Think of the other person. Pay attention to what you perceive they need. Offer to the other the consideration you’d like to be given.
I was in the car with one of my children the other day. I was distracted in two ways. First, I was looking in the rear view mirror at my child more than I should have been. And second, I was more concerned with my child’s life than with my own.
I was trying to convince my child that she was a good singer. She’d say, “I’m not a good singer.” “Yes, you are. That’s why you get A’s in music class,” I’d say. “No, Dad. I’m not good at singing.”
Back and forth we went. Finally, my daughter threw up her hands and said, “This is my life, Dad. This is my life. Not yours. I’m not good at music.”
I appreciated my child’s reminder to pay attention to what was most important. I needed to watch the road. And I needed to let her live her own life.
Whether we’re driving or helping our kids with homework or trying to figure out what God wants us to do in life, avoiding distractions can lead to success.
How can God’s glory shine through your life? Could a simple rule remind you to pay attention to the gifts all around you?
By Pastor Mike Gillen, Bowling Green First, Eolia, and Oak Grove UMC