Summary: In this sermon, Pastor Richard illustrates the importance of maintaining focus. Victories have been lost because someone lost focus. Success in almost any endeavor requires focus. But what causes people to lose focus?
In the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, the United States Women’s Softball team won the gold medal. They lost only one game but from that loss comes a remarkable story. It was the fifth inning in their game against Australia. Danielle Tyler hit a home run over the center-field fence. She buzzed around the bases full of excitement. As she ran toward home plate she was greeted by a swarm of celebrating teammates. She let the celebration distract her focus and she did not touch the base.
When all of the yelling subsided, the Australian team quietly appealed to the umpire--who dramatically called Tyler out. Rather than scoring the run, Tyler’s blast over the fence netted her team an out. As it ended up, had Danielle stepped on home plate, her team would have won 1-0. Instead, after seven innings of regulation play the game was tied at 0-0. In extra innings, Australia emerged with a 2-1 win over the U.S.
The goal was to win the game. But the game was not won because somebody lost focus—not just Danielle but the team members who were jumping up and down at home base. It was not a time for celebration—that would come in due time. It was a time to score runs.
Four reasons people lose focus.
I. They have never learned the value and discipline of having focus. Some people grow up in families pretty much doing whatever they feel like doing. If I want to lounge on the couch and watch TV, that’s what I do. If a video game sounds good, I do that. If I happen to feel like taking out the trash, then the trash gets taken out. Have you ever met a family like that? The sad thing is they are just as tired as people who develop a good work ethic. They wonder why everybody else seems to get all the breaks. Of course, there are and always will be inequities in life. But sometimes people are suffering simply because they don’t understand the power of disciplined focus.
Prov. 20:4 says, “The lazy man will not plow because of winter; He will beg during harvest and have nothing.” The Living Bible puts it this way, “If you won't plow in the cold, you won't eat at the harvest.” The child who grows up understanding that has a big advantage of the one who grew up just doing whatever he wants to. Teach a child to envision the harvest and discipline himself to have one. Teach him that the way he invests his time will determine much of the results he enjoys in life.
Let me go back to athletics for a moment and illustrate the value of focus. Any MMA fighter who gets in the ring with his attention on the girl in the first row will get knocked out and probably won’t get the girl! A professional fighter knows that he has to keep his focus on the opponent and on his own fight plan. Any NFL player has to be focused on winning games. He has to discipline his life so that he is ready for the game. Once he gets in that game his mind has to be directed toward what he is doing.
Does anybody here want a surgeon who doesn’t understand the value of disciplined focus? Anybody want a dentist who gets distracted and pulls the wrong tooth. Those people succeed in their field of expertise not only because they know their medical field, but because they have learned how to stay focused on the job at hand.
How easily are you distracted from what you’re supposed to be doing? My great uncle told a true story of a man who was replacing a large window in a two-story house.
He had a helper who helped him carry the new window up their ladders to put it in place. As they lifted the window into the opening they realized they did not have a crow bar to pry it into place. The boss told his helper that he would hold the window while the helper ran to get the crow bar. The window was in an awkward position and difficult to hold up.
As the boss got more and more weary he wondered what happened to his helper. He yelled his name and got no response. He held the window as long as he could and it finally toppled to the ground. When he came down and found the helper, he asked him why he didn’t bring the crow bar back. The helper had encountered an ant bed and started killing ants and forgot what his mission was. Of course, that was his last day on the job.
It’s a ridiculous story; but it raises two questions. Has your Boss, Jesus, sent you on a mission? Have you stayed focused on the task He gave you to do? For some reason, somebody here needs to ponder those two questions.