Why Distraction Steals Your Purpose

Oct 27, 2010, Written by Sue Miley

Distraction takes many forms in my life.  For example, I try to focus really hard on writing a blog post while the inspirational spurt has arrived, when I begin to wonder if the  price of my stocks are up or down, and as I go to click on a new tab I remember I need to order the NBA 2011 game my son wants for his 15th birthday from Amazon.  I can get it in two days with Amazon Prime!

It get’s much worse when something important in my life isn’t going well, and then I begin to obsess on it, which distracts me from the work I am doing.  So I begin to read blogs and twitter and face book to distract me from the obsessing; however, I am not getting any closer to the work I need to do.

To make myself feel better I tell myself at least I am not compulsively eating or getting drunk.  Those would be worse coping mechanisms. All the while continuing on avenues that take me away from my purpose.

After a couple of rounds of circular distraction I am frustrated with myself because I blew a 2 hour block of time I was going to spend writing blog posts for this week. In my weakness I turn to God to pray for focus.

In the transitional moments that I turn my attention to God, as the blurry begins to gain clarity, the “aha” moment comes, when I realize that Satan has struck again as a robber and a thief.

Distraction is the subtle, sly, lethal enemy of purpose.  Whether it is maintaining our Christian values in our business or spending appropriate time and energy on our relationships, distraction can derail us.

Distraction: A Weapon of Satan

In a recent sermon, an aside comment was made that stuck out to me.  Satan cannot kill us for Jesus has already conquered Satan, but He can distract us.  I know that everyone else in the congregation was centered on the Good News that God has conquered Satan.  I of course am distracted by the fact that Satan steals from us through distraction.

This distraction, although not eternal death, can certainly kill our dreams, damage our relationships, and undermine our faith.

I can be intense and almost move toward tunnel vision if I have an important project due.  Unfortunately, I don’t always recognize Satan’s messenger or method.  It’s frustrating, yet as I remind myself of Nehemiah, I have hope.

Nehemiah’s Hope

Remember that Nehemiah was called by God to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.  When they were close, extreme effort to distract came from Nehemiah’s enemies.

When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it—though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates- Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages [a] on the plain of Ono.”

But they were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.  Nehemiah 6:1-4

Nehemiah was busy doing the work God had called him too.  He said over and over that he was not to be distracted from his work.

Frustrating the Master Distractor

I don’t know about you, but after the second or third call, I may have caved.  I am not sure I would discern that there was danger or that distraction was trying to rob me of my goal.

Can you imagine the frustration that Satan would feel if every time “distraction” threatened to steal our time with our kids, work on an important project, or worshipping God at church, if we all said,

“I am carrying on a great project (work/priority) and cannot go down.”

If work calls with an emergency after hours, but I am helping my daughter with college applications, and said,

“I am carrying on a great project (work/priority) and cannot go down.”

If a group of us have a wonderful ministry project and events keep happening that threaten to derail it, rather than giving up, we pick up the pieces and say to ourselves,

“I am carrying on a great project (work/priority) and cannot go down.”

Nehemiah was called by God for a mighty work.

How Can I Discern?

Sometimes our mission feels minuscule in comparison.  Our work can be interrupted.  Our distraction of the day is important.  How can I discern?

First of all, I am actually excited if I at least recognize that a distraction may be present.  That’s at least progress.

Now what?

Back to Jesus

This always brings me back to Jesus.  What are His priorities?  Is the distraction taking me away from time with Him?

Relationships with others are next.  Am I growing my relationships or is the distraction causing me to distance or harm relationships?

Am I helping others or am I following selfish pursuits?

I wish it were more black and white.  I would like to know for sure if it is time to say,

“I am carrying on a great project (work/priority) and cannot go down.”

How about you?  What are your key distractions and how do you discern the difference?

Reader Interactions


  1. [email protected] says


    You really nailed it with this. Of course, we are all distracted. Mind is in my mind. I think so much about what I have to do that I don’t get done what I am doing. I wrote about the Shiny Object Syndrome a couple of weeks ago. The funny thing is that it took me two weeks to finish writing it – uh, because I was distracted….

  2. S_Miley says

    I had the same problem with this post…at least a couple of days. Finally had to hide from my dogs, kids and husband and just focus. I went to my office. What a novel idea!

    Since completing it I have set my mind to productivity. An idle mind is a crater size opening for distraction. With priority list and devoted attention, Satan hasn’t had a chance today!

  3. Brad Harmon says

    Such true words Sue! I’ve been distracted over the past few weeks and my blogging and online activity has all but ceased. Distractions can be momentum killers, and once we’ve realized we’ve come to a halt then the challenge of regaining that momentum can often be daunting leaving us stopped in our tracks. Satan doesn’t have to launch a huge assault to be effective. Sometimes, all it takes is to get us to look away for a moment.

  4. S_Miley says

    I know Brad. But Satan can’t win this time ….we need your blog! Momentum by it’s nature will pick up quickly, especially when powered by the Spirit. Let me know if you need a guest post to help get back in the groove!

  5. Alyssa Avant says

    So so so true, I was just reading my devotion about purpose today and realized that I do have purpose even in the mundane routine tasks and that Satan does try to steal my joy in doing even those mundane routine tasks.

    I thought I was the only one who used Twitter & Facebook to keep from obsessing over stuff. I feel better SUe that I am in good company.

    • S_Miley says

      Alyssa, I think distractions will continue to occur, but you are right…we need to be able to maintain our joy!

  6. Kim says

    Of course the big thing sometimes is figuring out what is the priority and what is the distraction, especially when it comes to parenting. Do I answer my child’s every call? How important is this right now compared to this other thing I’m doing? Not always an easy call. Great post! As a melancholic, I can totally relate to being this way.

    • S_Miley says

      Kim, I have learned in some areas but with my kids I am still easily distracted. Now that they are older it is easier because they are so busy themselves. Now if they interrupt I sometimes actually get excited. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  7. RevTrev says

    Good thoughts again. I have to set time to do things like tweet, facebook and read blogs. I need to do them after I get my work done and only for the amount of time I can afford. I’m learning to calculate my family time into the “work to do” side of the equation. Because when I don’t I don’t have balance.

    • S_Miley says

      Usually my social media keeps me from work more than family. I have learned to park the electronics when everyone get’s home until they disperse to separate rooms. That is just because I am a reformed workaholic. After a couple of decades of 60-70 hour work weeks God healed me. Hopefully, Satan won’t suck me back in.

  8. Raphael Neff says

    Sue, thanks for the encouraging words. I used to love my work. I had momentum, and everything was fresh and exciting! I was exploring new ways of reaching people and getting big results. Pretty soon, there are too many things happening and I realize i can’t keep up. It’s no longer enjoyable. I had to dig deep for purpose and really check if the vision was real. Only now am I gaining ground by starting my day consistently on time, planning top several priorities, praying, and simply deciding that any good work worth doing is worth doing well. And when I am back at home later, I am satisfied that I put in a good day’s work and can focus entirely on my family when back home.

    Yes, I struggle with distractions. You have to start the day right, and decide ahead of time how you are going to handle distractions. Decide if facebook is going to help your vision move forward today, and then hold yourself to it. Just realizing it takes time and practice to create these good habits let’s you know that no matter if you fail, it’s an opportunity to improve on it tomorrow.

    It just takes that slightest bit extra effort to improve on habits, and then being ever more consistent.

  9. Hands Free Mama says

    Dear Sue,

    I just stumbled on your website. This topic is near and dear to my heart. I had an awakening 9 months ago about what “daily distraction” was doing to my life…or shall I say what I was allowing distraction to do to my life (and my relationships.) God spoke to me and gave me the wake up call of a lifetime. Since that day, I have begun my journey to live Hands Free. I am letting go of distraction order to grasp what really matters. The impact has been so profound that I am sharing my journey through writings. It seems to be a message we have all been longing to hear. I thank God for the day He opened my eyes to the moments I was losing and would never regain.

    Thank you for writing so eloquently about such a critical topic in our society today.

    I am so glad to have found you this evening!

    • S_Miley says

      Hi Rachel,
      I checked out your site and love you mission! When I left the corporate world my theme for the year (yes, I give myself themes) was to “relentlessly eliminate hurry from my life”. This was a phrase I had read in a John Ortberg book. It ended up being the year that I re-designed my life and was the inspiration for my Life by Design life coaching program. And similar to you, mine was initiated with a wake up call from God. I actually became Christian through my wake up call.

      I love the journey you are on. Thanks for visiting here!

  10. Carlo says

    Sue, thank you. You cannot begin to understand how God has used you to help me. May God continue to use you and bless you.

  11. leon says

    Sue this is excellent. It just confirmed that this is what God wanted me to speak about tomorrow. I had already prepared a workshop on this same subject using Nehemiah as an example. I was about to try to put something else together ( distracted) then I ran across this blog. That was my confirmation that this is what God wanted me to teach. Thanks for sharing! To God Be The Glory!

  12. Laceyann says

    11 years later and this word is even more relevant! Thank You so much I kept reading especially because of that first few opening sentences lol I was like someone is like me? Thanks again distraction surely is a weapon of the enemy and so we have to call on our weapons to combat it!!!!

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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