“Federal agents don’t learn to spot counterfeit money by studying the counterfeits. They study genuine bills until they master the look of the real thing. Then when they see the bogus money they recognize it.”
A little over 10 years ago, I turned off the news. There was a national election going on and in typical fashion, one side saw the alternative candidate as being full of darkness with no possible goodness capable in them. The other side was in exactly the same boat. The acrimony and shrill hatred of the election were wearing me out. And worse than even that, it was leaving me incredibly discouraged.
The world was headed straight to hell in a handbasket and depending on who you were listening to, it was the other’s fault.
I was reminded of the decision of a very wise woman from an earlier season of my life with my wife. As a mother of six and wife of a successful businessman, she often found herself in social situations with people that were focusing a lot more of their time on the economy and world events than she was. It minimized her and made her feel ignorant about what appeared to really matter a lot to others.
She started spending time brushing up and keeping up with world events, the economy, etc. The problem was that it was completely inconsistent with her purpose in life…to love and lead the children, broader family, and friends that God had placed in front of her. And not only that, all that other information largely discouraged her and left her feeling hopeless.
So she quit brushing up and keeping up. She completely turned her focus to whom she had been entrusted to care for and only inputs that helped her accomplish that objective. She turned it all off.
I was spending hours confirming my opinions, talking with only people that agreed with me, and reading only the things that supported my views. I was increasingly incredulous that anyone believed differently, was fearful about things I had no control over, and felt hopeless about things I could not change. It felt like a huge exercise in futility.
Worse than anything, it left me so depleted and discouraged that I had very little left to offer the people and things that God had placed right in front of me. All that stuff “out there” and “over yonder” robbed me of my strength to tend to the stuff right here.
I was spending so much time focusing on what was wrong that I was losing sight of what was right and real.
Not being distracted by the counterfeit has allowed unbelievable bandwidth to realize just how rich, abundant, and extraordinary God and life in His Kingdom can be. I found uncommon inspiration and bandwidth. I meet with hundreds of leaders a year now and this is close to being my 400th blog about leadership and business. None of that ever happened before this switch.
Jesus, the perfect man. The one who reminds us of Adam and cuts through all rules, doctrine, and religion to show us how to live freely, lightly, and rightly, models something very similar. He seems largely disinterested in the empires leading his world, both political and religious. He looks through and past all those things, past the counterfeit, to focus on what is true and right.
He continually draws things back to simplicity and focus. To set aside the assertions, arguments, and complications of others. To assert that what really matters are things as simple as “loving God” and “loving others”.
Maybe your shoulders are broader than mine. Maybe you can bear some or all the weight of the world and not let it take you off track. Maybe you are strong enough to bear all that burden and not get discouraged and depleted in a way that keeps you from caring for the mission of your life right in front of you. I can’t.
I have a large family, am an owner in businesses, and meet regularly with dozens of business leaders. I don’t have time for the counterfeit.
How much time do you spend on the counterfeit of this world?
How much time are you spending immersing yourself in truth and what really matters?
Is the one keeping from the other?
Is there a typhoon, world war, or economic collapse headed our way that I should know about? Please let me know. I probably won’t know otherwise.