This past Sunday at Life Bible Fellowship Church, I encouraged believers to ask themselves if the Spirit was leading them to do something special in the month of August. We all want change in our lives, but we can get overwhelmed when we try to take on a new habit or practice indefinitely. But many of us can try something new for a month and see how God impacts us during that time.
I shared that I have felt led by the Spirit to try something for the month of August. I am calling it One-Thing-at-a-Time.
Sociologists have recently been talking about something called "Continuous Partial Attention." The idea is that, due to our phones, our computers, our televisions, our iPads, our iPods, and the many other devices that we have, we are rarely giving our full attention to any one thing. How many of us have seen a couple sitting across from each other in a restaurant, each on their own phone, not interacting with each other at all? Perhaps the more difficult question concerns how many of us have done that very thing.
I have found recently that I am rarely doing only one thing. If I am watching a movie, I am also playing a game on my iPad. If I am reading, I am also watching a television show. If I am watching sports, I am also playing some game on my phone. If I am playing with my sons, I am also checking the scores.
Sometimes it is unavoidable and harmless to multitask. We listen to music while we run. We talk on the phone while we in the car for our kids. We read a book while we eat. There is nothing evil about any of these. Frankly, there is nothing evil about the habits that I named above. But for me, these habits have made me ask questions about my contentment and my focus. More importantly, they have made me wonder if I am drowning out the voice of God's Spirit by surrounding myself with constant noise.
So, I don't feel that it is realistic to say that I will never again read while watching, or play a game while watching, or listen while playing. But I do think that I can try something new for a month and see what God does.
I share all of this partly for my own sake, and partly for the sake of anyone reading this. It is for my own sake so that I get concrete enough to follow through. It is for your sake so that it can possibly cause you to ask questions about your own habits and about how you can create more space for God's voice in your life.
So, here are some specifics during the month of August:
1. If I am reading something, I am reading. No music. No TV shows.
2. If I am watching something, I am watching. No reading. No playing a game on my iPad. No checking scores.
3. No more watching something on the iPad while I eat, get dressed, brush my teeth, etc. Fine to read while eating, but I want to break myself of the need of constant noise and entertainment. For goodness sake, I think I should be able to brush my teeth without needing to watch something while I do it.
4. If I am playing with my sons, or hanging out with my wife, no watching something in the background or constant checking of scores. Just be in the moment. Enjoy it. I won't regret it.
5. Listening the music while driving or running is fine. But there is no need to do it all the time. Some quiet space is good.
None of this is meant to be legalistic, but I know myself. Some of you are like me. If I don't get specific, I will let myself off the hook. I want to listen to God's voice in my life. I want to focus on what he has called me to do. I want to eliminate the background noise and see what happens.
What I am talking about here may resonate with you. If so, consider doing the same thing during August. I would love to hear how it goes. If this causes you to do something different for August, go for it. The Spirit leads us all in different ways. The most important thing is that we listen. As the Apostle Paul says in Galatians 5:25, "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."