Why do animal trainers often carry a stool when they go into a cage with large cats? The purpose of a whip and a pistol seem rather obvious, but what is the reason for the stool? William H. Hinson tells us that it is the most important tool of the trainer. The trainer holds the stool by the back and thrusts the legs toward the face of the animal. Apparently, the cat tries to focus on all four legs at once. In the attempt to focus on all four, a kind of paralysis overwhelms the animal. The lion or tiger then becomes tame, weak, and disabled because of its fragmented attention.
Jungle cats are not the only creatures affected by this problem. People also tend to become unable to do what they need to be doing when their attention is divided among too many things. Dwight L. Moody once observed, “The Apostle Paul said, ‘This one thing I do,’ but many people I know would have to say, ‘These 50 things I dabble in.’” Today we in live in world which values those who are good at “multi-tasking.” We scoff at folks who seem to be “unable to walk and chew gum at the same time.” On occasion, I have found myself boasting that I am able to read a book, watch TV, and listen to my wife all at the same time. The problem, of course, is that I am probably not doing those three things very well at the same time. My television watching may be adequate, but is it unlikely that my reading comprehension or my communication with my wife is what it should be.
Friends, I am convinced that many of us, maybe most of us, would be better off if we chose to focus on fewer things. If we did so, we would be able to do a better job in those particular areas and might also be able to avoid the exhaustion which plagues so many people. When we decide to limit our focus, however, we need to make sure we choose to concentrate on those things which are actually important. Rather than become consumed by the trivial, we need to devote our time and energy to the things that matter the most. We all probably have different perspectives on what is worthy of our focus, but each of us will benefit from following the instruction that Jesus gives us in Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Yes, we all have responsibilities at home, work, or school which require our attention. These should not be neglected. However, as human beings, knowing, loving, and serving the true God – the God of the Bible – is our most important responsibility in life. It should be the number one focus of our lives. If it is not in your life, now is a good time to get “re-focused.”
Rev. Dan Erickson
Senior Pastor, Chisholm Baptist Church