Les Hewitt, coauthor of The Power of Focus is an international workshop facilitator and popular motivational speaker. He founded The Achievers Coaching Program in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, which now includes 450 training programs operating in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. He is an active member of the North Calgary Community Church.
Charles Self, M.A., Ph.D., is an ordained minister and the pastor of adult education and ministries at the 2,000-member Bethel Church in San Jose, CA. He is the acting executive director of Messenger Fellowship, a network of 500 ministers and spiritual leaders who sponsor retreats and conferences, headquartered in Nashville. His articles have appeared in the Pentecostal Evangel, Pneuma, Kairos and The Leadership Journal.
Faithful Focusing Strategy #1
Seeking God, Finding Purpose
If you're taking on God's purposes, He will provide the power.
Picture yourself as a vibrant young seventeen-year-old.
You're looking forward to all that life has to offer. It's summer, a great time to be alive, swimming and hanging out with your friends. One hot July day as the sun is setting you dive into the murky waters of Chesapeake Bay. As your body courses through the depths your head strikes something hard and unyielding. Suddenly, in a moment, everything changes. Seconds later you're lying limp, face down on the bottom with a broken vertebrae. For the next two years you will be sequestered in a hospital, one year of which will be spent in a geriatric ward. Your only means of transport will be a wheelchair. The term paraplegic hasn't fully sunk in because this was never supposed to happen. The onset of depression only compounds your agony.
How would you handle a tragedy like this? Where would God show up in your thinking? If this tragedy happened to you, could you possibly foresee an agreeable future, never mind a meaningful purpose for your life? These are tough questions if you have never experienced this type of situation.
Joni Eareckson Tada had plenty of time to reflect on these questions. She was the teenager who suffered the pain of that life-changing accident and still does today, thirty-seven years later. However, her depression has long since gone, replaced by a thirst for God and a passion to help others facing similar chal-lenges. Remarkably, her heart today is overflowing with gratitude.
Joni's transition to faith was slow. On searching the Bible she realized that God hates suffering. In the course of her rehab she discovered a talent for painting. Of course, compared to almost every other artist in the world there was one little difficulty—she couldn't hold a paintbrush! Undaunted, she developed the skill of mouth painting, gripping the end of the brush between her teeth, slowly applying the strokes to her canvas. Now her paintings hang in galleries in major centers like New York. It takes six months to a year to complete one piece of art. 'I want to paint slowly but give the impression that the work was done quickly,' she says.
But that's not all. Joni's talent and drive to live every day on purpose for God knows no bounds. She has written numerous books, has her own radio program broadcast weekly through more than 1,000 outlets, and she's a disability advocate recog-nized at the presidential level. Joni was appointed to the National Council on Disability when the Americans with Disabilities Act became law.
Her company, Joni and Friends, has four flagship programs serving thousands of people around the world. Her awards and accolades are too numerous to list here. Simply put, she is on fire for God and has found a purpose through him that allows her to live abundantly, despite the daily trials of pain and the need for others to feed and clothe her.
Joni's attitude is inspiring. 'I'd rather be in this wheelchair with God than walking without him,' she says. 'Suffering is God's way of waking us out of our spiritual slumber—like a splash of cold water. The weaker I was in the wheelchair the more I had to lean on God, and the stronger he became for me.
A wheelchair can be a passport to joy. I look forward to heaven because I'll have my hands back!'
Maybe you're thinking right now. 'I could never do what Joni did; she's one of a kind.' But that's the good news—we're all one of a kind, unique in our own way. You'll learn, as we start our journey together in this book, that seeking God is directly linked to finding purpose and fulfillment. God has a plan, and you're part of it. Our purpose is to give you some practical guidance and direction to help you clarify what lies on the road ahead.
when life knocks you
to your knees,
You're In A Good Position To Pray
A key component underlying the ten focusing strategies in this book is called the Faithful Life Quadrant (FLQ). There are two stages. The first is designed to sharpen your knowledge and awareness. The initial step toward any improvement in your life is awareness. For example, if you wish to have a higher level of fitness you might start by consulting an experienced personal trainer, or by taking a course on nutrition. Gaining more knowledge increases your understanding so you can make better decisions.
To create a life of faithful focus requires that you first become more knowledgeable about God, yourself, the most important people around you and your life purpose.
The second stage is all about love—learning to love God, loving and respecting yourself, loving others (especially those closest to you), and loving your purpose. When you move from knowing to loving in all areas of the quadrant, you will truly experience the power of faithful focus.
Take a moment and consider how you feel about each part of the FLQ:
• Is God merely a concept, or a person with whom
you are really in touch?
• Is your self-knowledge superficial or substantial—
have you moved beyond clichés to real self-respect?
• Are you living free from anger, enjoying a variety
of healthy relationships?
• Do you have a specific sense of purpose and at
least the start of a personal plan?
As you allow the FLQ to awaken your heart and mind toward God and your future, we want you to know that Jesus Christ himself is the tangible truth for which all thoughtful people are longing. Jesus is the model of a life of love.
He loved his Heavenly Father, he had a humble and confident view of himself, he gave himself in his life and death for others, and he fully understood his purpose.
With Christ's love radiating from the center and embracing the four most important areas of your life, you are blessed beyond measure.
The Faithful Life
Having God in your life is the most important relationship you can have. He is your infinite and intimate Heavenly Father, and He's longing for a close, personal relationship. Through Jesus Christ we discover that the Lord did not come 'to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.' (John 3:17) How do you do this? There are lots of ways. Bible study, prayer, courses, books, inspirational music, mentors and your church pastor are all great sources. Meaningful movies and documentaries can also help. Better still, talk to Him every day. Tell Him your concerns. Ask for guidance and the discipline to know Him better. Make time with God a daily habit—schedule it in your planner so you won't miss the opportunity. You schedule other appointments throughout your day, from business meetings and family functions to sporting events, so why wouldn't you schedule specific time to rendezvous with God?
I like to connect first thing in the morning, just in case my day goes off course later. I enjoy this quiet time with God before the phones start ringing and I become immersed in my latest project. Being grounded in faith each day gives me strength, and at the same time keeps me humble.
Here's a great way to give your marriage a boost. Schedule time with your partner each evening to talk to God together and enjoy a few moments of inspirational reading from the Bible or another great book. I guarantee you will be refreshed. You will resolve conflicts and more easily feel closer to each other. Think about this: in the presence of the Lord, who said to his Father, 'not my will, but yourwill be done,' how could you possibly say to your spouse, 'my way or the highway?'
You might be thinking that you know yourself pretty well because you hear your own voice more than you hear the voice of anyone else. On the other hand, you may be saying, 'What do you mean? Is this some philosophy class where I stare in a mirror or follow some self-help guru's idea for instant enlightenment?' Not at all. We want to help you get beyond the surface noise in your head, or perhaps really think about your life for the first time.
Really knowing yourself requires a much deeper level of understanding. It means knowing what you value, knowing your philosophy, character, level of integrity and self-esteem. It involves your deeply ingrained belief systems, your strengths and weaknesses, and your attitude about life. Are you clear about who you are and what you stand for? What do you enjoy doing the most? What type of work inspires you and gets your adrenaline pumping?
Life is really all about relationships. When you pause to think about it, what are the truly enduring and enriching aspects of your life? Bank accounts don't bring happiness. Power is fleeting. Even sexual pleasure is temporary. It is authentic marriages, friendships and professional connections that really fulfill us. Who are the most important people in your life right now? Consider your immediate and extended family, friends, colleagues at work, business clients, and customers. How much time do you spend with these people? For most, especially if you work full time, the answer is not enough.
Have you noticed that we are losing the art of face-to-face communication? We interact electronically more than ever before, and the trend is growing. Clipped, bullet-point phrases have replaced the art of flowing speech and heartfelt expression. Church attendance is declining, especially among young families. For many people the race for wealth and material success is all-consuming. As a result we h...