As a young man growing up in Northern Italy, Luciano Pavarotti was torn between being a teacher or pursuing a career in music.
His mother, a cigar factory worker, often said, “Your voice touches me whenever you sing.” But a career in music was risky following World War II so she suggested he become an athletic instructor. His father, a baker and an amateur tenor encouraged him to continue developing his voice.
While he continued his musical studies he also enrolled in a teacher’s college. Following graduation, Luciano sought his father’s advice. “Shall I be a teacher or a singer?”
“Luciano,” his father replied, if you try to sit on two chairs you will fall between them. For life, you must choose one chair.”
Obviously, Luciano Pavarotti chose a musical career and blessed the world with his incredible voice.
Later in life, Pavarotti credited his father’s wise counsel for choosing his priority in life and then focusing on it.
Focus is paramount for us to reach forward and move forward spiritually.
This year our preaching and writing theme is “Reaching Forward.” This is the fourth of ten key words based on David Jeremiah’s book “Forward.”
By definition, focus refers to “the clear and sharply defined condition of an image…a central point, as of attraction, attention, or activity.”
In terms of usage, focus speaks to issues of concentration. Attention. Activity. You’ve heard the word used a lot in sports. We’re just focused on the next game. On the business at hand. On getting better. I once heard LaBron James say after his team had lost two consecutive games that the team had lost focus and needed to regain their focus.
Spiritually there is a focus that is important. Some things we should see clearly. There’s a need for our undivided attention. The wise man counseled, “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you” (Prov. 3:25).
Dr. Jeremiah offers four powerful principles that will help us sharpen our focus and move forward in life.
#1 Focus on God’s Purpose
The Bible offers this great insight into the life of King David. “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption” (Ax. 13:36).
Based on our talents, skills, abilities and circumstances, all of us have the opportunity to serve God’s purpose.
Whether in parenting, pursuing our professing, or practicing our religious beliefs, it is well to remember that God has a purpose for us. Three times in Ephesians 1, Paul reminds us that God’s purpose for us was predestinated in Jesus Christ. Salvation is in Jesus. Spiritual blessings are in Jesus. Our eternal inheritance is predicated on knowing Jesus and growing in our relationship with Him.
#2 Focus on God’s Perspective
When God sent Samuel to anoint the next King of Israel, it never occurred to him, nor Jesse whose seven sons passed before the prophet, that none of them were God’s choice. It was the youngest, David, who was in the field tending sheep. Jehovah’s selection was based on this principle when He said to Samuel,”For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).
God sees beyond the surface. He sees our character. He sees beyond the present. He sees the future. He sees the possibilities. He sees our potential.
#3 Focus on God’s Plan
God’s fundamental plan for people is the same. He has provided provisions for our salvation in Christ. Everyone regardless of race, gender, national origin or ethnicity can be a part of God’s Family. And His ultimate desire for us is to become more like Christ (1 Pet. 2:20-22).
#4 Focus on God’s Prize
Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…” (Matt 6:33). This is what Paul did. His focus was the goal of God’s heavenly prize. Toward the end of his life, he affirmed, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14).
Paul’s “one thing” was his “main thing.”
Your spiritual focus can be achieved and sustained by following the exhortation of the Hebrew writer, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus” (Heb. 12:2).
Where’s your focus?
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman