What Are Your "Squirrels?"

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
— Paul to the church in Philippi

I was hanging out with some new Australian friends doing some coach training in Portland, OR last week.  When talking about distraction, we both simultaneously uttered the word "squirrel!".  We found it funny that both of us used this obvious reference from the Disney Pixar film, “Up,” to identify distraction.  (Even more interesting is the fact that there are no squirrels in Australia.)

Our new Australian mates were some of the most earnest, determined, and gracious men I have ever met.  They seemed sober, but undaunted by the fact that a mere 2% of the population of their country (about 450,000) were Christians.  I read some recent statistics on San Antonio that showed that over 50% (or 700,000) of San Antonio residents identified themselves as Christians.  I was a little embarrassed by how discouraged I can feel about the cause of Christ in my current context when they seemed so invigorated in theirs.

As I reflected this morning on the juxtaposition of their situation and ours, I was reminded of Paul’s charge to the Philippians.  It really is an issue of focus and perspective.  It is about not being distracted by what has happened before, but keeping a razor-sharp focus on where you are headed.

Using some of the additional bandwidth that traveling allows, I read a jaunting blog on the conservation of energy by Morgan Snyder on his “Becoming Good Soil” site.  In fact, I would suggest you quit reading this and go directly to that post (if you only have time for one or the other).  It challenged me in the stewardship of my focus, reminded me of how distracted I often am, and forced me to count all the things that take my energy and focus.

The seminal question Morgan challenges you to ask in every situation is, “How much energy am I going to waste on this?”.  My mind went to:

  • The latest Spurs game
  • A challenging employee
  • A political issue
  • That relative
  • A difficult neighbor

It really is my choice as to whether or not I focus on things beyond or get entangled in the sinew of my circumstance, past and present.  My Aussie friends operate with a joy and certainty in sharp contrast to their current context.  I need more of that.  I was encouraged by their company and they paid me what I took as high praise, “You would fit in rather quite nice with the blokes in Australia.”  Maybe a trip down under is exactly what I need!  We talked about opportunities to work with them in both coaching and ministry.

I can almost see myself sitting on Russel’s back porch in the foothills of the Black Mountains.  Looking over the fallen city of Sydney and plotting with him about its ransom and rescue.

  • Are you consumed and discouraged by the context of your life and work?
  • Are you able to forget what lies behind and focus on what lies ahead?
  • Are you filling your heart, mind, and relationships with things that help you feel undaunted?