Having An Eye Single To God
One doesn't have to delve into the scriptures very deep to notice patterns of how God works. In the Old Testament, we see countless examples of winning battles against impossible odds because God is helping. We see countless more examples of devastation coming to those that don't follow God's plan. But in our own lives, it isn't always as clear as a choice between building offering sacrifices at the temple of God and melting your jewelry into a golden calf. Sometimes it is more like when Samuel was sent to find a new king.
In this day, kings were not just figure heads, they needed to be able to lead their people into battle. Saul had been an obvious choice since he was a head taller than anyone else. Of course the big strong guy will be able to inspire and win battles (and he did). So when Samuel saw Jesse's family, he thought he had a pretty good idea of who to choose. There were a number of sons, and he thought the one that was biggest and strongest was the obvious choice. But the Lord had other plans. In fact, all of the sons passed by Samuel and none was to be the next king. Upon further investigation, he discovered that the youngest son was out tending the sheep. While this wasn't Samuel's first pick, he trusted in the Lord and annointed young David to be the next king. This is the same David that slew Goliath and became one of the most famous kings in history, and especially in the Bible. We even studied his life in my high school English class (and yes, I was in public school).
I've found time and time again that the Lord knows what is best for me far better than I do. I've learned to trust Him and know that everything will work out. But I also recognize that such faith doesn't come so easily to everyone. The world has a lot to offer too. We need to sincerely ask our self which side we want to be on and if it is worth it. Of course we want to be on the winning team, but sometimes it isn't easy to tell which side is winning when you are still in the middle of the game. Being single minded means staying on the same team no matter what. I'm not a sports fan at all, but I've always found it funny when people will decide the team they are a "fan" of based upon whether they are having a winning streak or not. But who am I to judge, I choose what team to root for based upon the company I keep. We eat ice cream if the Jazz win, root bear floats if the Steelers make it to the super bowl...I guess that means my loyalties are to treats, not to teams.
So, we can compare the benefits of being on one team or the other. From one perspective, you can see that one team offers endless parties, fun social events, a chance to make a big difference in the world and be surrounded by really stellar people as well as being filthy rich, what more could you ask for to be happy in life? You only live once, right? The other team is offering potential imprisonment, discrimination, abuse, fees, and strict unpleasant rules. Really enticing, isn't it? But those are only the short term offerings of both sides. You have to decide whether enduring the short term good and bad is worth it to get to the end result. Choosing to live in both worlds (a summer home in Babylon) isn't really a viable option. That is being double minded, and you can only survive so long with two heads or two masters.
A Single Minded Individual
I think that deciding to have God's will supersede our own is a great way to avoid lots of tough decisions and quandaries. If God has already spoken on the topic (as He has on most moral issues), then indecision doesn't need to plague us. Often we can seek personal help and guidance as well and determine what path is best for us individually. For me, "because God said" trumps anything else. But there are still plenty of decisions that we are expected to make on our own.
I think the most important thing is to establish strong priorities. When we have a strong why, other things fall into place. For instance, imagine this common grocery store dilemma. I want to feed my family healthy foods, but I also want to save money. Do I buy the cheapest foods I can find and ignore the ingredient list and nutrition facts while keeping my wallet fat, or do I cut expenses elsewhere and take the time prepare meals from scratch with whole foods? It isn't that one answer is right and the other is wrong, but dependent upon the situation and priorities I've chosen. Being single minded means I know what I value most and don't have to have the same battle every time I go to the grocery store.
The same can be said for parenting decisions. How committed are you? Our family has decided to be committed to cloth diapering. That means that when a poopy diaper comes, my stubborness is stronger than the stink. I just put on a bamboo terry flat and continue on. My toddler doesn't nag yet, but I'm hoping that when he gets older, yes will still mean yes and no will still mean no, rather than "no means no, until you either ask fifteen times in a row, break something, scream or it is after 8 pm".
As a music teacher, I've had all sorts of students. Some get up early in the morning to practice, work ahead in the book and hope to go to Julliard. Others miss half of their lessons because something always comes up. I'm not saying that one is right and the other is wrong, but one definitely shows more single-mindedness while the other seems to be fighting an inner battle on a weekly (or daily) basis when it is time for lessons or practice.
I want to clarify, being single minded doesn't mean you are never allowed to change your mind. But it does mean you aren't wishy-washy. A single minded person knows what they want and they strive for that goal. There is power and peace of mind in that, even if the goal isn't necessarily a good one. Being single minded means being focused rather than trying to go forward and back at the same time.
Single Minded With Two Minds
As a kid, did you ever get a "no" from one parent, only to go to the other parent and get a "yes" from the other? Often my parents would eliminate that problem with the classic "go ask your mom" or "go ask your dad" answer. Parents not only need to be strong individually, but united strongly. There are plenty of other situations and relationships where being united is superior to the alternative. Look at The Piano Guys. Steven Sharp Nelson and Jon Schmidt were both amazing on their own, they could have got together and formed a business where they combined profits and expenses and still sold their own individual albums, but instead they are working together and performing amazing stuff all over the world!
Being single minded with two people is tricky though. It requires a strong relationship and a lot of trust. A common objective is certainly helpful. My husband and I aren't identical, but we share core values and priorities. For us, God is our very first priority, so we know if one of us feels prompted that something is important, the other will value it as well. Sometimes single mindedness means being able to answer for the other person. When I would come home from college break, I would often be informed of performance opportunities I had been volunteered for. It was good for both of us that my mom knew me well enough that she wouldn't sign me up for things I wouldn't have done on my own.
Sometimes being single minded in a relationship is more important than individual pursuits, events or activities. For example, I recently found out about a performance opportunity that interested me. When I was single, participation would have been a no brainer, but I knew it would take a big time commitment, especially during a holiday week. So I made sure my husband was fine with it and would be supportive before I signed up. So now I get to be in the orchestra for a local performance of The Lamb Of God. Now, before all the women's lib people get up in arms about me submitting to my husband, let me put it this way. My eternal relationship with my husband is a way higher priority than any performances or opportunities I might have on my bucket list, and I recognize that I only have control over myself so doing my part will accomplish more than nagging. A win-lose is still a lose. Thankfully, my husband also understands this concept and also asks for my input on matters. Two minds need to work in unity with a common purpose, but agency also plays a role, controlling or being controlled is not the answer either. I'm glad I have a supportive husband that lets me pursue my interests, but even if he didn't support me in this endeavor, I would still be married to a good supportive man and be spending a few more hours a week with him as well as every evening the week of Easter.
A Common Goal
Whether we are trying to align our will with God's, strengthen the unity in our family and circle of friends or just trying to make sense of what is in our own head, a common goal is a must. Being single minded brings clarity and direction in a world full of confusion and choices.
Have you ever had a paradigm shift that changed everything? Have you seen examples of 1+1=more than 2 because of unity? I'd love to hear your stories in the comments below!