Do you sometimes find it hard to stay focused and not get distracted?

Unfortunately, we live in a world today where it is becoming easier and easier to be distracted in general.  Even those who consider themselves to be very self-disciplined are not immune.  This leads to some of the common questions I often hear, such as:

  • How do I overcome distractions?
  • How can I stop distractions at home?
  • What does the bible say about distractions?
  • How do I pray against distractions?

As Christians, if we are going to be successful in our walk with God and in accomplishing our goals, we must learn how to overcome distractions and stay focused in a distracting world.

distracted woman

What Are Distractions?

Webster’s dictionary defines distraction as something that directs one’s attention away from something else. Simply put, distractions are meant to shift our focus.  

However, not everyone is distracted by the same things. For example, having the television on may be a distraction for some, while others actually concentrate better when there is background noise.

It’s also important to note that distractions are not always blatant or obvious.  In fact, very often they can be rather subtle.  

Other distractions are unavoidable, as they may come in the form of unexpected circumstances that are beyond your control.  And sometimes, there are what we call good distractions that are actually beneficial for you and maybe even necessary.

So, what causes distractions?

Sources of Distractions

Distractions can come in the form of people, things, specific places or environments, circumstances, thoughts, or temptations.   Let’s look at a few examples of distractions.

You decide to return to school to get your IT certification, and a good friend you haven’t seen in years moves to your area.  Distracting you from your studies, you start hanging out 3-4 times a week.  Then you get your first semester grades, which show you’re failing half of your classes.

You finally decide to quit your job so you can put all your time into developing your own business.  But then, you get a job offer from a company offering you $10K more yearly than you were making.  Distracted from your actual goal of working for yourself and earning six figures, you take the job offer instead.  

You decide to write a book with the vision that God gave you.  You receive negative feedback after discussing the idea with a few family members.  Negative thoughts overwhelm your mind, and you never pick up a pen again.

You decide to start a blog, but every technical issue imaginable arises. Distracted by discouragement, you give up completely.  

You set a goal to lose 20 lbs. and have your diet plan and exercise routine all mapped out.  But your roommate constantly fills the fridge with snacks and comes home with fast food.  You give in and end up gaining 20 lbs. instead.

Distractions can come in ways we least expect, from people we don’t expect, and at times, we aren’t expecting.  And they can end up costing us time, happiness, peace, relationships, money, and success.

What Does the Bible Say About Distractions?

Distractions from everyday work, goals, and life in general can be frustrating and even cause major setbacks. However, things that distract us from God can be extremely dangerous.

As Christians, when we start to lose sight of God, His Word, and His plan for our lives, we can be led in the wrong direction toward sin, missed opportunities, missed blessings, and discipline from God. Losing sight of God also causes us to live in fear, anger, worry, frustration, and doubt.

Let’s look briefly at five main things that are mentioned as distractions in the bible.

The Carnal Things of the World

One of our primary distractions by far, are the carnal things that the world we live in has to offer.  This is why both Paul and John warned the first-century believers about being distracted by the customs and behavior of the world:

  • Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.  Romans 12:2 NLT
  • Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.  1 John 2:15-17 NLT

Everything from the internet, television, social media, and cell phones to our jobs, relationships, hobbies, and habits has become something that distracts us spiritually. Like unbelievers, we often end up not only adapting the ways of the world but literally chasing after them (fame, fortune, accolades, pedigree, social influence, attention, etc.), which in turn draws us further away from God.

Our Fleshly Desires

Because the carnal world in which we live offers so much in the way of temptations, it caters to our fleshly desires, which is also another big distraction:

Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

James 1:14-15 NLT

But praise be to God, for through His Holy Spirit, we can overcome the temptations of our flesh. We don’t have to give in!

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 

1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT

Our Thoughts

Another major source of distraction is our thoughts—all the craziness that can sometimes go on in our heads. Unfortunately, we can’t control every thought that comes into our minds. However, we can control what we do with the distracting thoughts once they surface.  

As Christians, we should always redirect our mindset towards things that glorify God:

  • And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Philippians 4:8 NLT
  • Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  Colossians 3:1-2 NIV

Other People

The Bible speaks of people being a huge source of distraction as well.  And sometimes, it’s even on purpose:

So Sanballat and Geshem sent a message asking me to meet them at one of the villages in the plain of Ono.  But I realized they were plotting to harm me, so I replied by sending this message to them: “I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?”

Nehemiah 6:2-3 NLT

Sometimes we allow what people think about us, or the approval we seek from them to distract us.  In this case, we should work to adopt the mindset that the Apostle Paul had:

Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.

Galatians 1:10 NLT

Other times, we simply have to avoid certain people or relationships altogether, especially if we know it would hinder our walk with God.  When Paul wrote to the saints in Corinth regarding marriage, he went as far as advocating for some to remain unmarried because a single person can be fully devoted to God as opposed to having divided interests and responsibilities to a spouse or family:

I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.

1 Corinthians 7:35 NLT

Our Circumstances

Very often, our circumstances can also be a distraction in our lives.  We can easily get so caught up in the trouble, pain, or misfortune we are experiencing that we lose sight of who God is and His sovereignty and power over our situations.

And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?  “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Matthew 6:30-33 NLT

As you can see, distractions are inevitable regardless of the source. And the impact of distractions can be detrimental.  So, what can we do to ensure we are ready for them when they come and know how to overcome them?

How to Overcome Distractions

Regardless of your goals or plans (spiritual, physical, financial, or personal), the following eight tips are simple and practical ways to overcome distractions in every area of your life. 

Identify What Distracts You

Remember, everyone is distracted by different things, in different ways.  The first thing you must do is start by identifying specifically what distracts you.  

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Hebrews 12:1 NIV

In order to fix the problem, we have to identify the problem.  And we do this by identifying everything that hinders or distracts us from our goals. 

Is it TV, electronics, social media, a significant other, laziness, lack of zeal, clutter, co-workers, background noise, hunger, your kids, or having too many tasks? 

Even if you have to audit how you spend your time for a week, you need to determine what is distracting you and causing you to be unproductive.  

distractions

Eliminate Whatever Distractions You Can

Not all distractions are physical, but once you identify your distractions, start by eliminating the ones you can.  When it comes to spiritual growth, the bible tells us that we simply need to get rid of some things:

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

Ephesians 4:31 NIV

In the same way, we need to start getting rid of things that distract us.

If you want to lose weight, you must throw away the junk food!  If you’re distracted by the TV, unplug it!   You may even need to turn your cell phone completely off for a few hours.

If certain people or places are a distraction, avoid them! You may need to temporarily block that friend who constantly texts you throughout the day or stop hanging out with your negative cousin.

If you’re like me, you must avoid going to Walmart sometimes because it distracts you from sticking to your budget!

Change Your Environment

Sometimes, to overcome distractions, we must consider environmental factors and make changes accordingly. This could mean staying where you are and making changes or adjustments to your current environment to make it a distraction-free zone.

If you are doing home workouts, you probably don’t want to do them in the family room with the super comfortable reclining couch.  

There are other times when changing your environment could mean going to a completely different place to be more productive.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. (Mark 1:35 NIV)

Mark 1:35 NIV

Do you need peace and quiet? Go to your local library. Do you need to free your mind to allow your thoughts to flow? Take a walk or go for a drive. Do you need advice? Go visit a like-minded person or mentor, where you can get positive feedback and support.

Have a Daily Task List

Even if you are opposed to making a to-do list or having a schedule, it is unavoidable if you want to stay on task and accomplish your goals.  A verse I like to keep in mind is:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.

Colossians 3:23 NIV

In other words, once I set a goal to accomplish, I need to do everything I can to get it done.  And when you work at something with all your heart as if working for God, that includes putting in some effort every day to achieve that goal.

Here are a few tips for daily task lists:

  • Realize you can’t conquer everything in a day. Breaking things down into smaller, more attainable daily tasks helps.
  • Tackle hard tasks first to get them out of the way. You will feel much better when the tasks you least want to do are behind you.
  • Always set a time limit or deadline.  Something that should only take an hour should not take you all day to complete.

Never confuse being busy with being productive. We can fill our days looking busy by doing stuff that doesn’t matter or wastes time. That’s not productivity. True productivity is a good solid hour of time focused on something that gets you closer to your goal. 

Monitor Your Thoughts

So often, we are our own biggest distractions. Sometimes, it’s what is going on inside our heads that is stealing our focus. Stress, anxiety, fear, doubt, anger, frustration, or other worries of this life can easily set in and distract us.

We have to constantly monitor our thoughts and feelings to ensure we are focused and staying positive. Negative thoughts can be detrimental in many ways. Not only will they steal our focus, but they can also lead to physical issues—headaches, sickness, fatigue, depression, and others.

External distractions are one thing, but internal distractions can cause us the most harm if we don’t manage them. This is why it is very important for Christians to spend time reading God’s Word daily.  

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Isaiah 26:3 KJV)

If we stay focused on God, reading His Word, and talking to Him constantly in prayer, He can help free our minds from negative mental distractions.

Reaffirm Your Goals Daily

A big part of staying focused and overcoming distractions is reaffirming your goals daily.  If we lose sight of what we aim for, we set ourselves up to fail before we even start.  

This is where affirmations, lists, post-its, and vision boards come into play.  Having a visual reminder in front of us daily helps shift our focus back to where it should be when we get distracted.

A great illustration of this is a passage where Moses was teaching the Israelites about the importance of learning the Word of God:

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.  

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 NIV

The Israelites’ main goal as a nation was to serve God, and a big part of accomplishing that was learning and obeying His Word. To ensure that they wouldn’t forget, Moses instructed them on how to learn God’s Word.  

He told them to talk about God’s commands wherever they went, to tie them as symbols on their hands and foreheads, and to write them on their door frames.  In other words, set up reminders all around!

With all the distractions we will encounter, we will have to constantly remind ourselves of what our goals are.  

Beware of the Devil

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8 NLT

No matter what you set out to do, the devil will try his best to distract you from serving God. The Bible tells us to be alert for this very reason.  

If the devil can manage to distract us with temptations and problems, he will keep us from being productive and accomplishing what God wants us to do.

And of course, the best way to stay alert is to stay focused on God and His Word.  When you do this, you equip yourself to resist the devil, and he will literally leave you alone (at least for the time being).

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

James 4:7 NIV

Recognize and Take Advantage of “Good Distractions”

Lastly, it is very important to recognize and take advantage of good distractions when they come.

Good distractions are those that steal your focus in a positive and healthy way. They can even revitalize your energy, allowing you to refocus with a clearer mindset. These good distractions typically involve taking breaks to do something that will give you a positive boost.

Examples include meditating, taking a walk, singing a song, laughing, writing, listening to music, eating a snack, reading, playing with your kids, etc.

Staying focused and overcoming distractions doesn’t mean all work and no play.  It means doing what needs to be done to accomplish your goals while allowing room to regroup as needed.  In fact, it is in our best interest to allow for good, healthy distractions.

Let’s look at another passage of Scripture:

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  

Luke 10:38-42 NIV

Martha purposely invited Jesus to her home. But she was so caught up in doing housework that even when he arrived, she didn’t stop to spend time with him. She even got upset with her sister Mary, who stopped everything to give Jesus her undivided attention.

Jesus, in turn, rebukes Martha for being distracted in the wrong way. Yes, the work she was doing was important and needed to be done, but in that moment, spending time with Jesus was the most important thing.

Don’t get so caught up in your goals that they become a distraction from what is most important in your life—God! 

It’s Never Too Late to Refocus

At one point or another, we will all get distracted. The good news is that it’s never too late to get back on track and redirect our focus back to God or our goals. 

Even if we let our distractions steer us off course, ruin relationships, set us back months or years with our goals, and cost us our money or our peace – God is still there for us!  He is there to give us the strength we need to try again and move forward.  

I’ll leave you with two of my favorite bible verses about overcoming distractions:

  • So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Ephesians 5:15-17 NLT
  • Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. 1 John 5:21 NLT

Let us seek God through His Word and constant prayer so that with His strength, we can be the focused and productive Christians He has called us to be!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Demetra is a busy, self-employed, single mom who loves Jesus and is a fanatic about prioritizing her time with God!  She created In the Mirror of God to help other Christian women learn how regularly looking into our spiritual mirror (the Bible) equips us to cultivate a deeper relationship with God, think biblically about everything, conquer the challenges of everyday life, and truly enjoy life to the fullest, the way God intended.  Go here to learn more about her story, or visit her contact page to send a quick message.

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21 Bible Verses About Distractions and Ways to Overcome Them

18 Comments

  1. I must admit this was a good distraction while searching for a womens Bible study. Great reminder for me to stay focused on the task of having a more intimate relationship with the Lord. Busyness is a distraction but I’m never too busy to spend time with God. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless!

  2. I’m actually doing a study on distractions.
    Your article was very helpful. Di you mnd if i pass it on and use done if your ideas, principle and technique for overcoming distractions?

    1. Author

      I’m glad it was helpful Gloria, and yes, feel free to pass on/use the information. God bless.

  3. I love this piece. Extremely helpful in planning an activity on Distractions – how to identify and manage them, for a group of ladies.

    God bless you.

  4. To the inthemirrorofgod.com webmaster, Your posts are always well organized and easy to understand.

  5. This article was right on time, very helpful, and amazing! I received so many nuggets in this article that will be helpful for my relationship with God and my business’s goals. Thanks for sharing, YOU are indeed CALLED for this! Blessings to you and your family!!!

  6. I really do appreciate this article it was a GOD sent to me. I have been struggling with distractions of all sorts, and you hit every area that kept me in bondage. I’ve been praying and asking GOD for help and He lead me right here. I can’t thank you enough for not letting distractions stop you for writing a well put together article. GOD bless you sister.

    1. Author

      Praising God for you sis! I’m glad the post could be helpful. Praying for your strength as you fight to overcome distractions. I know God will be with you every step of the way.

  7. Thank you so much, I needed some guidance this morning. I wanted to study on this subject and began by putting “how to overcome distractions-biblical” and I landed here. I am very glad about it. I need to read this blog over and over again. It seems I am chronically distracted. Good practical, biblical advice…thank you sister.

  8. Thank you for this wonderful, writeup i enjoyed the reading.

  9. Most important issues, affecting our daily lives has been addressed to in the most lucid and wonderful manner.

  10. Love this article! Very useful and practical tips. Thank you very much for sharing this. God bless you always🙏🏾

  11. Thank you so much. I’m led to share a word on distractions with my cogregation. Your teaching is quite comprehensive. DoIhave permission to use some of your materials?

    1. Author

      Thanks Sylvanus, I’m glad the post could be a good resource for you. You can absolutely feel free to use the material. May God be glorified as you minister to your congregation.

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