Vocation Focus: Seven Ideas to Help You Live With Greater FocusBlog / Produced by The High Calling
The average person checks his cell phone 150 times each day. Is it any wonder that we feel unfocused and distracted?
Years before social media exploded and smart phones pressured us with constant notifications, The Attention Economy discussed the limitations of human bandwidth. Our brains can only process so much information, and technology has caused us to expect more from ourselves than our brains can handle.
Every year, new devices promise to help us do more, but often they leave us feeling unfocused, uncreative, and ultimately unproductive. John Trougakos, with the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, has described the problem in terms of psychological energy. His research suggests simple habits to protect your psychological energy, such as taking regular breaks, eating lunch away from your desk, and avoiding lunch meetings.
The problem of vocation and focus is much larger than mere productivity, though. It is one thing for me to stay focused on my task list for the day and my deadlines for the week. It is quite another to keep my life goals in focus from year to year as I try to live in such a way that I am honoring God with the gifts God gave me.
This week at The High Calling we want to help you find focus in your everyday habits, but we also want you to think about maintaining focus in your goals and ambitions. If everyday focus requires psychological energy, then vocational focus requires a deeper spiritual energy that comes from seeking God’s will in our lives.
But the constant noise of the digital age makes it hard to focus. Not only are we struggling to stay on task. Too many of us are not pausing at all to reflect on the bigger picture of our careers, our individual passions, and the good work God has called us to accomplish. Instead, we let productivity distract us from God’s purpose because we want to answer just one more email, like just one more post, or complete just one more calendar item.
Consider these seven ideas to help you live with greater focus:
1. Find the Music in the Noise
Sam Van Eman finds adventure in the promise of commitment. He says yes to new projects because he fears he might miss out on something. As a result, sometimes his life and career can feel out of control. Read Sam Van Eman’s article to find out the surprising and extreme course he is on to find spiritual focus in his vocation.
2. Follow Your Passion, Not Your Career Path
Todd Lake carefully examines a common church approach to vocation. In a world where many Christians assume that spiritual work is holier work, we can forget the real truth. Read Todd Lake’s article and remember how to find joy in any work.
3. Learn to Love Your Job
Award-winning journalist Bob Smietana encourages readers to bring passion to their current job. You’ll be inspired by the story of Andi and Al Tauber who bring creativity to their day job in Chicago. Read Bob Smietana’s article if you are ready to pay attention to the opportunities right in front of you.
4. Recognize the Spiritual Value of Work
Popular High Calling author, J. B. Wood, shares the five biggest career mistakes that Christians make. All of them flow out of our struggle to recognize the intrinsic value of work—from over-spiritualizing our work to using our work as a stomping ground for evangelism. Read J. B. Wood’s article and check yourself against his list.
5. Create a Simple Filter to Evaluate Opportunities
If you have trouble saying no, take some time to create three filters based on your personal mission in the world. (We encourage you to take a one-day personal retreat to do this.) For example, consider these three filters: Called to serve your local community. Called to serve your family. Blessed with a particular vocational skill. Try saying yes only to opportunities that address at least two of your filters.
6. Pray and Reflect Every Day
Whether you use The High Calling daily reflections every morning or another resource like Pray As You Go, we hope you are taking time to remember your primary calling. As Paul told the Philippians, “Press on toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” If you aren’t yet subscribed to a daily devotional tool, sign up for one today and commit to daily reflection for 40 days.
7. Remember Your Greatest Calling
Angela Aadahl with the Laity Lodge Leadership Initiative approaches the topic of vocational focus from the perspective of young professionals. Many 20- and 30-somethings are struggling with emotional and spiritual disorientation in their careers. She reminds readers that we are not alone if we feel lost in our jobs. Read Angela Aadahl’s article if you need help imagining what an integrated life can look like for you.
Marcus Goodyear is the Editor of The High Calling and Director of Digital Media for the H. E. Butt Foundation. After earning his BA from Texas A&M and an MA from UTSA, he taught English and Creative Writing in Texas for ten years before joining the Foundation in 2005. He currently lives in Kerrville with his wife and two kids. His poetry collection "Barbies at Communion" is available on Amazon.
The constant noise of the digital age requires us to work that much harder to remain focused on our individual passions and the good work to which God has called us. God wants us to feel passionate about our work because what we do reflects the person we are called to serve—Jesus. Our series, Vocation Focus, will inspire you with stories, Bible reflections, and practical tips. Click now to read more about Vocation Focus.
Featured image by Tim Miller. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr.