On steering, staring, and seeing what really matters

Ihave found the following to be true: We steer where we stare. In other words, we tend to gravitate toward the direction of our focus. I have found this to be true when I’m driving (much to my wife’s dismay) and in my thought life, as well. 

Social media has its own iteration of this. It’s called an algorithm, which creates a digital environment based on what your chosen platform perceives your preferences to be. In other words, it tries to give you what it thinks you want. 

Algorithms can be disturbingly prescient and annoyingly persistent. A simple search for “auto mechanics near me” can turn into an endless barrage of posts promoting not only local shops, but ads from car dealerships, automotive parts and accessories stores, and reels from internet influencers rating rideshare apps. 

Paul told followers of Jesus at Colossae, “So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:1-2). 

Even 2,000 years ago, Paul knew it to be true: we steer where we stare. The Colossians had plenty of adversity they could have focused on: physical suffering, cultural pressures, and more. To choose to keep their focus on those things was to take their eyes off the prize—Jesus and the glory to come. Getting our focus off Jesus is a strategy Satan loves because it works on the lost and saved alike. For one, it steals the possibility of eternity and for the other, the possibility of peace. 

"Pain turns the focus inward, but Jesus continually calls us to a life of faith and hope that is meant to bring peace."

We live in an age of information overload with inputs coming at us from every direction. If you own a smart phone, you’re never more than a few inches away from countless forms of media offering you the latest updates in conflict and chaos around the globe. This is true both in secular and Christian media. With a presidential election just months away, the intensity of this reality will reach a fevered pitch.

This isn’t a call to bury your head in the sand, but rather, to keep your focus on things above. Doing so will take intentionality and discipline. It’s so hard not to get sucked into some of the negative black holes created not only on social media, but as a result of the very difficult things life can sometimes bring. Pain turns the focus inward, but Jesus continually calls us to a life of faith and hope that is meant to bring peace—the kind of peace that doesn’t make sense to the world around us. 

I don’t mean for this to sound like a shameless plug, but that’s what we aim to do each month in this magazine: provide you content that will help you keep your focus on the work God is doing around Texas and beyond. You can find more than a handful of media outlets offering the latest controversies in a minute or less, but far fewer telling the stories of what God is doing in some tiny, out-of-the-way church where faithfulness—and not furor—is changing the world. 

Paul says it best in Philippians 4:8: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things.”

Advice like that is worth taking a second look at.

Digital Editor
Jayson Larson
Southern Baptist Texan
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