One of the unique and (sometimes annoying ) aspects of my “brain wiring” is that I have an ability to hyperfocus. This ability is a mixed blessing. On one hand, when in hyperfocus mode, I can be incredibly productive and tremendously creative. On the other hand, when I’m hyperfocused, it’s almost impossible to get me to shift away from what I’m focused on, and I can get irritable and grumpy if you try.
I’ve lived most of my life thus far without really understanding this phenomenon. There are those who regard it as a handicap. The more I study this unique “brain wiring” system, the more I see it as a gift, rather than a handicap. Like most gifts, it can be used or abused – and that’s where the gift can become a challenge.
I’ve also come to the realization that there is a spiritual version of hyperfocus. Have you ever had an in-depth conversation with a Missionary? It doesn’t matter if it’s a Missionary to a foreign field, or one to the neighborhood they live in, every Missionary that I’ve ever met had one thing in common: When engaged in conversation, sooner or later they’ll move that conversation to a discussion of the serious needs on their Mission field. If you try to broaden the scope of that discussion, they’ll just pull it back to their point of focus – their Mission field. I once heard a teacher/preacher refer to this phenomenon as “Blinders.” It’s a form of spiritual hyperfocus, a gift that keeps people called to ministry focused on their specific calling.
If you’ve ever seen a race horse on the track, you may have noticed that the horses all wear “blinders” – devices that block their view to each side, and narrow their field of vision. Without these devices, the horses would see all manner of distractions to the side, such as the other horses. The blinders allow them to stay focused on their specific goal: getting down the track as fast as possible.
God, in His wisdom, has given His workers the same sort of “blinders.” Unfortunately, this fact is rarely less understood – or more apparent – than when discussing a church’s ministry goals and deciding where to allocate money to meet those goals. All that the youth workers can see is young, moldable minds that need Christ, knowing that with every passing day they become harder to reach. All that the children’s ministry folks can only see is the young ones, so impressionable, so much in need of Jesus. All that the Senior Citizen’s ministry can see is the fine, seasoned saints who’ve given so much, and now need our support and care. All that the choir can hear is that awful sounding piano.
Unfortunately, when not properly understood, the gift of Spiritual hyperfocus – those “blinders” – can result in full-scale combat between different camps who, by design, can only see the need that they are called to minister to. It’s vitally important that we understand this “blinders” phenomenon, and take into consideration the important needs of the other parts of our local body of believers, as well as the ones that we are focused on as individual servants of Christ. Maintaining the right balance between all of the different visions of ministry in the local church requires wise, mature leadership with the equally important gift of seeing the whole body, and how all of its parts function together.
Thank God for the “blinders.” People often work at their best when they are focused in one direction. Those “blinders,” if properly understood, can keep each of us on-task, focusing on the specific calling of God in our lives. When you gather together a group of these blinder-equipped believers, and allow the blinders to do their job, the result is a church that can truly “run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1b-2a, NNAS)