Have you ever gotten sidetracked? You know, you're focused and moving forward when all of a sudden, something pops up and you find yourself distracted, questioning, wondering, and waiting for what to do next?
It happens in the office. You're working on materials for the next youth gathering when a Facebook notification pops up on the screen and you click on it to see what's happening. The next thing you know, 20 minutes has passed as you jump from feed to feed to feed. Sidetracked. Or when you're meeting with your ministry team to work on plans for the upcoming retreat and the topic abruptly switches from afternoon game planning to a discussion on the new Avengers trailer that just hit the internet. Sidetracked. Or when you are with your middle school ministry talking about God's sovereignty and someone farts. Yeah, good luck coming back from that. Sidetracked.
Sidetracked. At some point we all find ourselves a little sidetracked. Usually, we can find our way back after a few minutes of distraction. Sometimes getting sidetrack is a good thing. I know I find that when I hit a writers block, a little distraction is welcomed. But what about when you face a distraction in your life, and you find yourself sidetracked in a significant way? Sometimes a distraction like this can be devastating.
So just recently we encountered a couple distractions that could have caused us to be a bit sidetracked. Since the beginning of the year we have found ourselves dealing with a couple issues that have caused us to take a step back look at what was happening around us. It threw us into a time of prayer as we tried to discern what God might be teaching us or leading us into. And while I can't talk about the details of what sidetracked us, I do what to share some of what we have learned and are learning because of the sidetrack.
1. Don't be Distracted By Distractions
- We've been in this place before, something surfaces that causes us to hit the pause bottom and take a careful look at what's happening. The trouble comes not in the distraction, but in how you handle the distraction. You see, you will experience distractions, the trick is not to allow the distraction to stop you from doing what you have been called to do. You have to stay focused at what is front and foremost. Career, family, commitments, all of these must be maintained and followed through. The danger comes when we prematurely shut down or begin to neglect our responsibilities. So when the distraction comes, if you feel like it's something to consider, do so. But not at the cost of what you're already doing.
2. Move from Distraction to Discernment
- Sometimes God allows the distraction because he's about to do something new and exciting in your life. And sometimes, the distraction is just that, a distraction. You need to know which is which, and that only comes through prayer and discernment. When a distraction arises, recognize it, and bath it in prayer. Not once or twice, but as an ongoing conversation with God. Ask him to give clear direction. Pray that you would not be distracted from what are already priorities in you life. And pray for wisdom to be poured out on you.
With prayer and discernment, I think it is also extremely important to seek wisdom and counsel from godly men and women who can be trusted, who will pray with and for you, and will give you solid unbiased advice. Having a trusted person who can help you discern God's activity in your life is huge. And helpful.
3. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
- If you are married, you probably already know the importance of communication. But when your facing an issue that might significantly sidetrack your life, it is all the more important that you communicate, and communicate often with your spouse. I know for my wife and I, when distractions arise, we do our best to set aside time to seriously discuss the matter one-on-one. As information comes and goes, it is important that new information is discussed and properly considered. And in the end, if a decision is to be made, you know that you have done your very best to communicate well.
If you're not married, then be sure that you are talking this through with a parent or a trusted friend. These people have a great advantage to see into your life in ways you may not be able to. That can be super helpful.
Distractions don't have to lead to getting sidetracked, if we keep everything in perspective. But when we do find ourselves sidetracked, it's good to know that we can right our course and push on.
Now on a personal note; yes, we have had some distractions of late. A number of things have surfaced in the last couple of months that have caused us to wonder, question, and even doubt. But we are committed to not allowing any of these distractions to sidetrack us from what God is called us to do in the present. Instead, we have applied the very things that I just shared, and we are trusting that God is at work in some significant and amazing ways! And what we expect to see on the other side of all of this is the wonderful evidence of God's amazing grace and extravagant love. And that is what I would hope and pray for you was well.
Jay Higham is a 24 year veteran of student ministry; having worked with students in the local church and Christian camping settings. Jay is currently the Youth Director at Hickory Church, located in Western PA. Jay has been married to Amy for 19 years. Together, they are raising 5 kids, (4 boys and 1 little girl). Jay is passionate about student ministry, family ministry, and sharing with other youth workers. You can learn more about their ministry to the family by visiting their family blog at, www.TheHighamFamily.com!