Previously we discussed the need for creators and dreamers to stay focused: concentrating on their “one thing”; keeping their eyes on the Lord, who equips and empowers; and avoiding distractions that can knock them off course and drain their precious time and creative energy.
There’s yet another way to stay focused, which involves making decisions and choices — and then sticking to them: Don’t be double-minded.
Can creators accomplish anything worthwhile and lasting if they’re double-minded? Can dreamers truly reach their goals and see their visions fulfilled if they don’t avoid this state of mind? Perhaps. Stranger things have happened.
However, the Apostle James writes: “Such a person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. He is a double-minded man, unstable in all he undertakes.” (James 1:7-8 ISV)
Merriam-Webster defines double-minded as “wavering in mind: undecided, vacillating.” The term first appears in the above quoted verse, and no doubt James, the half-brother of Jesus Christ, derived the word from the Greek dipsuchos, which denotes “a person with two minds or souls.” Related words include: fickle (“marked by lack of steadfastness, constancy, or stability: given to erratic changeableness”); indecisive; disloyal; wishy-washy (ineffectual); fair-weather (as in “fair-weather friend”) and even schizophrenic (in its popular usage)!
It’s not a particularly nice way of describing an individual, because people generally disdain this quality. We impatiently ask our friends to “please make up your mind!” We criticize politicians for being wishy-washy regarding key issues. And in the classic Hitchcock thriller Psycho, poor confused Norman Bates — who frequently dresses up and acts like his own mother — is definitely “double-minded” (as in schizoid).
One might say that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are double-minded, as well. (Or should we write “is double-minded” — since the two identities are simply facets of one misguided fool.)
In the context of the Book of James, the quality of double-mindedness has more to do with divided allegiances, and the fear and doubt people experience when they take their eyes off God and start concentrating on their problems and circumstances. Such people, to put it mildly, are distracted — definitely NOT focused. As a result, they may choose a course of action or start a new project only to abandon it at the first sign of trouble.
- Double–mindedness is also about being undisciplined in one’s way of thinking. It’s being unresolved and unsettled. It results in a person second-guessing each and every step taken.
- Double-mindedness is being pulled in multiple directions; following all the latest fads, diving into every controversy (whether in the community, at the job, or on social-media platforms). It can result in a “yoyo personality” in which one experiences frequent and sudden emotional ups and downs.
- Another symptom of double-mindedness is a heart in constant state of conflict — between what the Lord has called you to do (your “one thing”) and what others expect you to do.
The Apostle James warns, “If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get His help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.” (James 1:5-8 MSG)
In other words, make a decision based on what God has shown you, and then stick with it. If we don’t stay focused, regardless of all the distractions in life, and continually rely on the Lord to help us, we will not accomplish our goals and realize our dreams. Instead of “arriving” on the shores of destiny, we’ll continue to be lost at sea, so to speak.
In part, staying focused (not double-minded) requires learning how to say “No,” and really meaning it. People will continually make requests, invite you to activities, expect you to meet a variety of needs, many of which may be worthwhile. But the timing and circumstances, as well as one’s priorities, must always be considered.
When confronting a request (or expectation), ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this a real need — or a want?
- Am I the person best suited to meet this need?
- Am I only person who can meet this need or request?
- Does the requester have other untapped resources or relationships?
- Has the requester become a continual drain on my time and resources? (Is this a one-sided relationship?)
- Is the person’s need or request the result of his or her reckless or wasteful lifestyle? (Could God be using this need to teach accountability and foster positive change?)
Then, regardless of the individual and the circumstances, ask the Lord if the need/request is something He wants you to get involved in.
Sadly, staying focused on your goals and creative pursuits will require you to say “no” more often than “yes.” You’ll never realize your dreams if you’re constantly trying to solve the world’s problems. That said, God does expect us to “bear one another’s burdens.” (Galatians 6:2) He doesn’t want us to become so self-centered and self-absorbed that we become insensitive to the needs of those around us. After all, God has called each of His followers to serve. (Read Luke 22:27. We’ll have more on this later.)
And yet, the Apostle Paul admonishes us, “Don’t just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing.” (Philippians 2:4 TLB)
What’s that? In the midst of giving and serving we can also look out for own hopes, dreams, and needs? Contradiction? No. But maintaining a sensible balance is essential.
Join us next session for “Set Boundaries and Please God”