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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Staying focused

This is a reprint of a weekly email post I wrote that goes out to men at Central. I'm just cutting and pasting it here:

Let me start this off by saying I don’t know what you think of politics, and I don’t particularly care. That is not what this email is about.

The last few hours I’ve been listening to news reports about the death of Osama bin Laden. Like many of you, I feel a sense of gratitude for the men and women who serve in our nation’s military. I am grateful for their skills, their determination, and their willingness to give their lives to protect our nation. Like many of you, I am relieved at the death of Osama bin Laden, and the word “justice” comes to mind often.

I stayed up to listen live to President Obama’s announcement on Sunday evening. I was impressed at the way the President handled himself. He was stern and resolute and as “presidential” as I’ve ever seen him. Too often our politicians have messed up military operations by being too idealistic or meddling too much. I think of John Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs, or of Jimmy Carter and the failed attempt to rescue the Iranian hostages. It was a pleasure Sunday evening to hear about an operation that went the way it was supposed to — not that everything worked out perfectly, but that the operation was a success, and no Americans were harmed.

I started thinking about the last several weeks and what President Obama has been enduring. Specifically, I thought about the resurgence of the “birthers” -- those who claim Obama is not a legitimate president because (according to them) he was not really born in the U.S. Many people criticized the President because he took too long to produce his birth certificate. Donald Trump has been the most recent in a long line of people bringing noisy accusations against Barak Obama.

In spite of these distracting attacks, last night we learned that the President has been taking care of business. He’s been paying attention to the intelligence from Pakistan and meeting with his National Security team. When the time was right, he gave the order to strike. Whether you like Barak Obama or not, he seems to have handled this particular situation effectively.

It made me wonder. Do I have what it takes to ignore the attacks, ignore the controversies, and stick to business? Or am I easily distracted, driven by a need to defend and protect my fragile ego? If people were in the press day after day maligning my character, criticizing my actions, and doing their best to make me look foolish, could I keep my mind on the mission God has for me?

Jesus made clear that his followers are going to come under attack, be misunderstood and slandered. Just before his death, Jesus told his disciples, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart — I have overcome the world.” In another place Jesus said, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).

Are you focused on the mission God has given you? Are you even aware God has a mission laid out for you? If you don’t have a sense that God has called you into a specific mission, it’s easy to get distracted by the small battles along the way. But if you have a sense of the greater calling God has placed on your life, it will be easier to ignore the trivial pursuits. Then you can be like Jesus, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Don’t get distracted by the small stuff — keep your eyes on the mission God has given you!

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