Managing the Tyranny of Distraction


So many of us are distracted. We wish we could be more focused, but there is so much trying to grab our attention from electronics to our everyday to-do list of tasks. Most times everything seems to be trying hard to grab our attention, time and our energy.

What can we do?

A story in the book of Luke offers us some real help. It’s the well-known story of Martha and Mary, but today I discovered something new and exciting from it.

To recap the story Jesus comes to visit two women, Mary and Martha. While Mary stops what she is doing to focus on Jesus, Martha scurries around trying to do as much as she can to offer hospitality, food and she probably did some clean up as well. She asks Jesus to intervene and get her friend Mary up and helping her. Jesus, however gives her an answer she doesn’t expect—He tells her that Mary is actually doing what is best. “Mary has chosen the good part. Work can wait, Martha.”

When I read this story in the Amplified Version of the Bible something just pops from the page. Luke 10:40 reads “But Martha [overly occupied and too busy] was distracted with much serving; and she came up to Him and said, Lord is it nothing to You that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me [lend a hand and do her part along with me]!”

Martha was, not unlike most of us, overly occupied, too busy and distracted. She’s busy “serving” but in reality, she needed to be focused. She thought she was doing the right thing and checking off her list of activities, but she was overly busy and distracted from what really mattered. And, my friends, so are we.

What is distracting you from what you really need to focus on? What “overly busy” tasks are holding you back from deep and intimate time with your family or friends?

Author Teresa Preston wrote, “Our thoughts can go at light speed to distract us from what really matters in this life. We can even get distracted in doing everything for the right reasons.[1]

Martha’s dilemma was she thought she was “doing everything for the right reasons.” And, she wasn’t. Her doing got in the way of something more important.

We need to take a break. We need to set down our electronics, set aside our activity list and ask ourselves what is really most important. Is checking email while out with your kids really that important? Or, would the time be better spent talking and having fun with your kids? Is the game you are playing on your tablet computer really that important? Or, is reading the Bible and discovering fresh and new Truth about God and His way and will? What else gets in the way? My advice is to set it aside.

What are you willing to set aside so you can be more like Mary than Martha?


My new book, The Way Back from Loss is now available from Amazon and other fine book retailers.


[1] Teresa Preston, My Devotion, My Heart: Spiritual Encouragement from My Heart to Yours, (Mustang, OK: Tate Publishing & Enterprises, LLC, 2009), 63


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Brennan Manning

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