Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. — Matthew 22:37
How many decisions do you suppose you make in an average day? A half-dozen? Twenty? Fifty? One hundred? Studies have shown that on average, most adults make around 35,000 decisions each and every day. Now, some of these decisions are minor concerns, like whether to have Raisin Bran or Pop-Tarts, which blouse or shirt to wear, and whether to drive or take the bus. But some are weightier decisions: Should you apply for that new position? Have the conversation with your boss? Take the next step in your relationship? Ask your kids some hard questions?
Dealing with all these choices can leave you feeling exhausted, afraid, anxious, uncertain, confused, angry, worried... and a host of other emotions. Based on sheer volume, all these decisions can also leave you feeling incredibly distracted. The trivial and mundane decisions can blur into the more significant choices you make. It requires time, reflection, prayer, and due diligence to take giant steps in life. But when bombarded with thousands of other seemingly urgent demands, it can be hard to focus your attention on how to align your decisions and actions with your values and convictions.
Your decisions aren’t the only variable influencing your attitude, but they definitely contribute to how you spend most of your time, focus your attention, and pursue various activities. Your decisions are also influenced by the assumptions you’ve made and accepted as truth and by the stories you have told yourself. You probably know that not all stories and assumptions should be shaping the choices you make, but you may have a blind spot in seeing how certain ones are holding you back, keeping you distracted, and blurring your focus.
It’s been said that decisions shape who you are. But what if instead “who you are” shapes the decisions you make? What if your identity, purpose, and faith in God guided the way you prioritized the decisions you make? If you want to be undistracted in your attitude, it’s time to take an honest look at your decisions and what’s consuming your time and attention.
If you or any of your group members are just getting to know one another, take a few minutes to introduce yourselves. Then, to get things started, discuss one of the following questions:
• What is something you consider to be a big distraction in your life right now?
— or —
• In the course of an average day, how often does your mind wander?
Invite someone to read aloud the following passage. Listen for fresh insights as you hear the verses being read and then discuss the questions that follow.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. — 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
How have you experienced the comfort of God in times of trouble?
When has “patient endurance” in sufferings helped you comfort and console other people who were suffering? What did you have to offer them because of what you had experienced?
Play the video segment for session one (use the streaming video access provided on the inside front cover). As you watch, use the following outline to record any thoughts or concepts that stand out to you.
You want to have an awesome attitude? Be where your feet are. Be self-aware. Be situationally aware. Be emotionally aware. Be spiritually aware.
Jesus talked about loving God with your heart and your soul and your mind (see Matthew 22:37). He talked about loving your neighbors like yourself (see Mark 12:31). He talked about loving widows and orphans and doing things for people that were hurting (see Matthew 25:35-36).
Pilots follow a GUMPS checklist for flying that can also help us keep our focus:
Gas: What is fueling your ambitions and joy?
Undercarriage: Are you prepared for what is ahead?
Mixture: How are you applying your energy?
Propeller: Are you moving forward or just spinning in place?
Seat Belts: What is the basis for your security?
As you take off into this time, think about the following questions: What am I doing? Why am I doing it? What’s distracting me from my purpose?
Find out the stories that you’ve made about your life. Maybe some of the stories are about how you perceive yourself—I just can’t be that person, I need to be quiet, or I need to be gregarious and loud and silly. Figure out the stories that you have made up about yourself along the way.
Distraction comes at a high cost. Think about it... what is it costing you to be distracted by an iPhone, old relationships that aren’t squared away, and new ones that are crazy? It’s costing us a ton.
The Bible says that God comforts us in our failures and times of sadness so that we can comfort other people with the comfort we got from him (see 2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Don’t be taken offline by setbacks. You can turn a distraction in your past into a bright future.
When you are undistracted in your attitude, your joy and peace and willingness to serve becomes contagious. When you are “on tone,” everybody else will be on tone as well.
As you consider what you just watched, use the following questions to discuss these ideas, their basis in Scripture, and their application in your life with your group members.
- What does it mean to you to “be where your feet are”? What are some ways you try to remain present each day?
- What are the biggest distractions in your life right now? How would you describe or characterize them?
- Do you agree that your primary focus should be on loving God completely, loving others as yourself, and serving those in need? Why or why not?
- What false stories have you been able to identify so far in your life? What impact have those false stories had on your identity and purpose?
- Why is it so challenging to shift the focus from your own pain in the midst of trials to those who might be suffering as well? When have you experienced giving comfort to others based on storms that you’ve already encountered?
- When has your attitude been positively affected by someone else’s positivity, compassion, and ability to be present to you and your needs? When have you been able to pass this kind of attitude on to someone else?
As you reflect on this week’s teaching and the group discussion, consider how you can remain open to new ways of eliminating distractions and keeping your focus on what matters most. To facilitate this process, at the end of each session you will find an exercise designed to help you apply the teaching so you can become undistracted and more present in your life. This practice will also be a way to help others in your group as you learn and grow together.
In this first session, you’ve started the process of exploring what it means to recognize distractions in your life and how you can refocus your attitude. Get a sheet of paper and write GUMPS as a vertical column on the left side of the page. Take a few minutes and fill in your assessment of this flight checklist as it applies to where you are in life. Use your video teaching notes to prompt your assessment for each category: Gas, Undercarriage, Mixture, Propeller, Seat Belts. You might also list specific distractions you’re aware of within each category. Keep this checklist handy so you can review it later during times of personal study.
Conclude your session by sharing any requests you would like the group to lift up in prayer. Thank God for bringing you together for this study so you can help and encourage one another as you seek to recognize and overcome the distractions. Ask God to give you clarity, wisdom, and discernment as you proceed. Trust that he will give you eyes to see and ears to hear the truth of how, when, and where to focus your time, attention, energy, and resources.
* * *
Let us know your thoughts on the Undistracted study in the comments. We'd love to hear from you!