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Overcoming Distractions

By Dr Uvoh Onoriobe
Some years ago, I took stock of my life and frankly speaking I was not sure
where I was heading. There was a feeling of emptiness inside of me. I was not
satisfied with my state then and the future seemed bleak. I was moving but the
destination was not sure. I was lost like Adam.

In an attempt to locate myself, I stumbled across ministry materials by Dr Myles

Munroe. He posed five questions that took me weeks to answer.

Who am I?

Where am I from?

Why am I here?

What do I have?

Where am I going?

I realized that fulfillment arose from living out God’s purpose for my life. I

also realized that like many people, I had not discovered why God made me.

Unconsciously, I had a personal vision statement - “I would just like to get

through another day”. I had never asked what God wanted my life to be. I had

never prayed that God would give me a burden or a calling, that He would use my

life for a deeper purpose. I had a pinball approach to life. A pinball has no

sense of direction. It is simply bound around by the events and influences

around it.

For the first time, I had a yearning to make a difference- to be a part of

something bigger than myself. To know that I can do something on this earth that

would outlive me. I wanted to be able to say that there is a purpose to my


"I realized that my life was like a coin and I could spend it anyhow I liked but I could only do it once. My goal now is to get to the end of my life being able to say, “God I served my purpose".

If you look at those who have been used by God to make a difference in this

world, it shouldn’t you take long to see that they have lived a life of purpose.

When I carefully look at people who have built successful marriages, I realize

that those couples have a specific vision of what could and should be in their

relationship from God’s perspective. They know that it’s not enough just to be

married. That’s not a good enough vision. They have developed a picture of what

they want their marriage to look like.

Thus my quest began. I sought God to reveal to me the reason He brought me into

this world. I asked Him for a picture of what my life could be and should be. A

picture of what the future should look like. I earnestly desired to rise above

the daily grind. To live a life full of passion and purpose and in no time, I

found a higher purpose to live for - a life of vision. It became real to me that

I was born with a personality and a set of strengths and an allotment of time in

which to accomplish my purpose. I could almost hear God say, “Go for it, serve

your purpose, and make your life count”. I realized that my life was like a coin

and I could spend it anyhow I liked but I could only do it once. My goal now is

to get to the end of my life being able to say, “God I served my purpose. I

lived out the reason for which you made me. I finished the race. I served Your

purpose in my generation”.

A few years into my newfound life, I discovered that there is a more dreadful

tragedy than not being able to discover ones purpose / vision. It is not being

able to finish the vision. I had discovered why God made me. I waited, prayed

and planned while God moved the right people and circumstances into place and

provided the resources to carry out the vision. I had communicated the vision

and got other people on board. Soon, I realized that the daily grind is hard on


Life is so full of distractions and your vision can get lost among the many

lights on the horizon of life.

Subtly, I was getting distracted and again began to live for no higher purpose

than to get through another day. I related my experience to a friend and sought

his advice on how to get back on track. This was what he told me. “When I got

married, I had a picture of what our relationship could and should be. I did not

just want to get married; I knew that, there were a set of qualities that I

wanted to see in my marriage - qualities like, honesty, kindness, intimacy and

respect. Eleven years into my marriage, how many people think that there have

been times that, I have lost that vision due to the daily grind of life? My wife

please put down your hand! You see I know what my marriage could be and should

be, but life is hard on vision. There are bills, and in-laws and work and all

sorts of other obligations. Each of these if not put in their right position

could threaten the life of our vision. Seven years ago, a doctor turned to me

and placed a little baby in my arms. I had held babies before, but for the first

time, I was a parent, and that child was mine. I had a God given picture of what

type of parent, I should be. How many think that seven years into that vision,

when the school bell is about to ring, and there is cereal all over the floor

and my daughter can’t find her running shoes for the 23rd time, that I am the

type of husband that I should be? Reality is hard on vision.
Property is a famous distraction. So is the need to feel powerful and to be

admired. Obsession and addiction are good ones. Holding grudges,murmuring, regrets are other fine examples.
My overall life vision is very simple. It’s down to 3 things. If I do those 3

things, I know I would have served my purpose. And I will have had a life well

lived. Every day, it is a struggle to stick to those three things. One of the

greatest tragedies is to know what we should be doing from God’s perspective,

but we are not doing it, because life is getting in the way. We are struggling

because there are so many distractions.

Life is now. Bills are now. Crises are now. Vision is later. It is easy to begin

living moment by moment, and to sacrifice what’s really important for what’s

urgent, sacrificing what’s best for what’s good enough. Distractions can

slow-kill a vision. We know exactly what God wants in our marriages, our houses,

our relationships, our finances, our ministry, but we get so busy living, and

that what could be, is then lost.

What is it that you hope for? Love of friends and family, good relationships, a

sense of peace and contentment, providing help for others, laughing, and

enjoying our bodies, dance or sport. How does it feel when you know that God is

near you? What is it that keeps us from these things?

Property is a famous distraction. So is the need to feel powerful and to be

admired. Obsession and addiction are good ones. Holding grudges, murmuring,

regrets are other fine examples.

Three Major Distractions

1. Opportunities

Every day we face unimaginable opportunities - more opportunities than have ever

been available in the history of humanity. We have more entertainment, travel,

business, career, and investment opportunities than in any previous era. But the

opportunities can easily become a problem. Opportunities can kill a vision. We

can sacrifice God’s vision for any number of opportunities that come our way.

I have found that the most dangerous distractions for me are the opportunities

that pull me away from God’s best. There are tons of opportunities that come up

that are really good: planning meetings, speaking engagements, board

memberships, community functions, conferences. I could be out every night of

every week taking advantage of “good” opportunities. I have come to realize that

it’s possible to be busier than I already am, even doing good things whilst

accomplishing fewer things I know that God really wants me to do. The good can

be the enemy of the best.

This is a constant struggle for me. Every week it’s a fight to pull back all of

my opportunities and to focus on what’s really important. In fact, a few months

ago I was wrestling this very issue when a magazine landed on my desk and said

these words:

Take a look at the future when you write your company’s (your family’s, your

children’s) history two years from now, which decisions will have really

mattered? What were the key comments that led to create such a success?

Write them down. Post them on the wall. And work on them!

That’s what you should spend your time on. Getting those decision right is far

more important than answering your 103r email message or hacking that last piece

of code.

Situation report.
At reader’s digest in the 1950s Lila Wallace used to walk from

office to office saying, “It’s a beautiful day. Turn off the lights and go

home.” And it was 4 -p.m.! Maybe if you left the office once a week at 4:00p.m,

the decision you’ll make the next day would be a lot better. Go home have dinner

with your family. You’ll be glad you did.

My recommendation: If your current job environment is one where the only way to

avoid getting fired is to work all the time, then hey, get fired. The

unemployment rate is still only 4%, and if you’re smart enough to be

reading this magazine, well, there are plenty of jobs out there that reward you

for being smart-not for digging the most coal. (Seth Godin, Fast Company June


What are the two or three things that are really important to carrying out God’s

vision for your life - in your marriage, your finance and your ministry? God has

called you to do these two or three things. When other opportunities come up,

ignore them. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted by events, organizations,

hobbies, and activities that do nothing to further the vision that God gave you.

Don’t let your job take you away from that. Don’t get distracted by the

opportunities. Focus on what matters most.

Every day of our lives opportunities have a way of coming up that have the

potential to distract us from the main things that God has called us to do. Many

of these distractions aren’t even bad things. But we can be out six nights a

week taking advantage of good opportunities. At the same time, we could be

making less and less progress toward the purpose God has for our lives. To build

a life of purpose, we have to learn how to say no to some good things. When you

begin to live a life of purpose, you need to live with Nehemiah’s words etched

on your mind: “ I am doing a great work and cannot come down.

2. Criticisms

Nothing attracts critics like vision. If you’re passionate about what could and

should be, eventually somebody will question your motives or your enthusiasm.

Somebody will misunderstand your intent. Don’t be distracted by them. Don’t let

the critics take you away from God’s vision. Pour out your heart to your father

and then get back to work.

There will come a day, when the vision becomes a reality, that even your enemies

will have a hard time explaining away what has happened through you. So don’t

let criticism distract you. Take it to God, and let Him partner with you to what

could be and should be.

3. Fear

Every vision contains an element of fear. It’s easy to doubt ourselves, our

abilities, our safety, and focus on the risks we are taking. There are often

people who will point out the risks we are taking, and why they’re not

reasonable. But there’s a phrase in the Bible that’s repeated over and over

again to people who lived lives of vision. It goes like this: “Do not be afraid”

Joshua 1:9 says, “I command you - Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or

discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. 2 Timothy 2:7

says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power,

love, and self-discipline”

Don’t get distracted. Don’t let opportunities or criticism or fear derail your

pursuit of God’s vision - keep your eyes focused on the finish line.

I want to ask you a question. What is keeping you from living that life of

vision? What opportunities, and which criticisms? What fears are keeping you

from seeing God’s vision come true in your life?

If you’re somebody who has all kinds of opportunities that keep you from seeing

God’s vision come true in your life, then you need to take some specific steps.

Maybe you need to go home one night and go into your kids’ bedroom when they’re

asleep maybe you need to grasp their tiny little hands and silently pray,

“Father, I am doing a great work and I cannot come down”.

Let’s pray.

Father, forgive us for getting distracted so often. Father, I’m preaching this,

and you know how often I get distracted. I get pulled away by opportunities, by

criticism, even by fear. Help me to stay on target and on vision.

I pray that each of us would learn and apply the phrase, “I am doing a great

work and I cannot come down. Help us to see your vision for the various areas of

our lives, and to be so committed to living them out that we would do whatever

it takes to keep that by the daily grind.

Father, we know that the starting point of personal vision is that each of us

would have a relationship with your son Jesus Christ. So right here, right now,

I pray.


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