The Center of Attention

Center of AttentionWhat is wrong with me? I know I’m not that bad of a shot.

I had been invited to a men’s meeting in West Virginia, and, of course, the schedule included the obligatory target shooting of .22’s. Exasperated, I peered once again through the scope attached to the gun I had borrowed. Seriously? No holes at all?

I looked over at the guy who had loaned me his rifle for the day and asked him again. “Are you sure this thing is sighted in?” After receiving his assurance that it was, I returned the task of humiliating myself by shooting past the target and off into the woods.

When we finally finished the competition, I slowly ambled to the dining hall, hoping that no one had noticed. I should have known better. After dinner they began passing out rewards for the shooting competition. I cringed as they came to the “worst shot” award and wanted to duck under the table when they announced my name.

As I contemplated my humiliating experience, I knew it just couldn’t be true. There was no way that I could miss the target every time. When I could stand it no longer, I borrowed another gun—this one without a scope. I pointed the barrel at the target and squeezed the trigger. A quick glance at the target revealed a hole roughly the size of a .22 caliber bullet. Plink, plink. Two more holes.

Now, rather than hiding, I wanted to shout to the world, “Hey, guys! I’m not so bad after all! I actually can shoot a gun!”

Unfortunately, the other guys had moved on to more interesting endeavors and I was left to celebrate in solitude. I had to accept my permanent branding as the pastor who couldn’t shoot. Not exactly a designation of honor in the mountains of West Virginia.

I learned two important lessons that day. First, never trust anyone who tells you his gun is sighted in. Second, a gun scope will eventually lose its focus and require recalibration.

Fortunately, all I lost that day was a bit of self-esteem. However, we stand to lose a lot more if we never take time to re-center our focus. Just like that .22 that no longer pointed in the right direction, our lives can sometimes lose their focus.

We are surrounded by so many things that steal our attention. Every time we watch television, we see thing that we would like to have. Bills pile up, cars break down, and new hobbies avail themselves to us. Gone are the days when folks sit on the porch in the evening “chewing the fat.” We rush here and there and collapse into bed at night, only to start all over again in the morning.

It is easy to focus on ourselves and what we want.

Sometimes we need to take some time out and realize that we are shooting off in the wrong direction.

The Apostle Paul understood this very well. When he wrote a letter to the church that met in Corinth, he stated that he “determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:2).

He knew how easy it was to get sidetracked with insignificant matters. He could have visited Corinth and gotten caught up in all kinds of other things, but before he arrived, he re-centered his life. He was interested in one thing and one thing only: Jesus Christ and His crucifixion.

That does not mean that nothing else is important in life. It does mean, however, that if Jesus Christ is not central to our lives, we are pointed in the wrong direction. Just like the scope of a gun, we may be lined up close to the mark. We might even be focused on church or some worthy ministry. However, if we are not focused on Jesus, in time we will find ourselves way off the mark.

It’s time to re-center ourselves. Focus on Jesus—on pleasing Him and magnifying Him. You will find that everything else then falls into place.


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