Spiritual ADHD (The Inability to Stay Spiritually Focused)

Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD (more commonly known as ADHD these days), is a very frequently used phrase today.

I believe there are some strong parallels between the symptoms of ADHD and spiritual issues—a spiritual ADHD, if you will.

According to Wikipedia, an individual who may suffer from ADD:

  • Often does not give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities.
  • Often has trouble keeping attention on tasks or play activities.
  • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
  • Often does not follow instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions).
  • Often has trouble organizing activities.
  • Often avoids, dislikes, or doesn’t want to do things that take a lot of mental effort for a long period (such as schoolwork or homework).
  • Often loses things needed for tasks and activities (e.g. toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools).
  • Is often easily distracted.
  • Is often forgetful in daily activities.

In short, these individuals may have trouble sitting still or focusing on a specific task, particularly when physical activity is minimal.

I frequently hear adults refer to themselves as, “I’m ADD, so I’m always doing something…can’t sit still.”

While typically said with a smile or laugh, it’s almost like this gets spoken as a badge of honor or a valid excuse to never be still. (After all, to my knowledge, ours is the first generation that grew up being told they were ADD and were either medicated or excused because of it.)

While I’m not passing judgment on the validity of ADD, there is unquestionable value in learning to be still.

The Bible tells us—even commands, in certain verses—to be still.

For example, on the night when the children of Israel had left Egypt, as they approached the Red Sea, they began to panic because Pharaoh’s army was catching up to them and they saw no way out.

The Scripture says:

13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
(Ex. 14:13-14 NIV)

Of course, we know how GOD delivered them, parting the Sea, leading the people safely across on dry ground, and drowning the Egyptians as they followed.

Being still is not easy at times.

When the storm of life rages around us, our temptation is to panic or to try and solve the problem ourselves.

David understood what a struggle this is for man.

He had many enemies in his life and in Psalm 37, he reminds us that GOD is bigger than all our problems and expects us to be quiet and still as we call and wait upon Him:

1 Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
3 Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
7 Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
(Psalm 37:1-7 NIV)

Similarly, the sons of Korah wrote this beautiful psalm as a praise to GOD:

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
(Psalm 46:1-11 NIV)

Avoiding spiritual ADD requires practicing faith…and patience, both of which are challenging, stretching and painful at times.

We must force ourselves to sit still and wait for GOD’s time to come, remembering that those who wait on GOD will never be put to shame.

There is another sense in which we can have spiritual ADD, and that is when we get distracted from following Jesus by the “shiny” things in the world.

Jesus must be absolutely everything to us.

He must be the pearl of great price for which we “sell out” so we can buy the field upon which it’s located.

We can’t serve GOD and money. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil and sets a trap for many.

In America where we are so blessed and even those living in poverty are among the wealthiest people in the world, it is easy to love our stuff.

GOD doesn’t command us to love Him more than our stuff; He commands us to not love our stuff at all.

Recall John’s instructions:

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
(1 John 2:15-17 NIV)

This isn’t optional, friends. It’s required.

Jesus commands and requires 100% devotion.

Anything less is idolatry and hated by GOD.

And you know what, Jesus is totally worth that price (and so much more, but it’s all we can give)!

Don’t live out your days with spiritual ADD.

Be still. Focus.


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