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Chad Veach: The Key to Avoiding Distraction

Chad Veach: The Key to Avoiding Distraction

It’s easy to get distracted these days. Whether it’s something happening on social media, a new project dropped in your lap from your boss, a phone call from an old friend, a new movie you’re dying to see — you get the picture. There are so many things pulling for our attention at all times, and if we’re not careful, we can give our full attention to something or someone that doesn’t deserve it.

Zoe Church Pastor Chad Veach knows that struggle well. In order to pastor his church in L.A., be present for his wife and child, run from meeting to meeting each day and host a weekly podcast, Veach has had to learn how to stay focused on the things that truly matter without getting overwhelmed.

To find out how to live a less distracted life, we sat down with Veach to get some practical tips on focused living and hear more about why Christians should fight to be present.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Why do you think Christians need to recent their attention on God these days?

I was just reading Matthew 6 this morning. We had a prayer meeting today, and someone had transcribed it, written it out for me, and taped it into my Bible so I could read it on the opening night of the Zoe Conference. And I saw that again today. I love the thought in Matthew 6. We’ve always grown up with the NIV or the New King James Version translation, but in the Message translation of Matthew 6, towards the end, Jesus says to “give your full attention to what I’m doing right now.”

When I read it in the Message, it really jumped out at me. We always hear, “Seek first the kingdom of God; tomorrow will take care of itself.” But I like that new iteration of it: give your full attention. I felt that for us as a city, as a church, and just for people in general, it’s so easy to look at the glory days of the past, what God did back then, before COVID, and so on.

It’s about the contrast and the decision you have to make to go from the glory of the rearview mirror to the windshield of faith, looking forward.

Many of us think we have to get back to how things were before COVID. And I always laugh at that, because we could also enter into a new season and do that. We don’t have to go back. My whole joke is, I remember who you used to be. You were just as upset, just as frustrated, just as lonely. It’s like the fish gets bigger every year. It was so great. No, no, we were there. You were not that happy. It’s a trick in life. The tension is not to romanticize the past and not to villainize it. It wasn’t the worst. They weren’t the worst. I hated being there. Gosh, it was just so hard. I don’t think I was around you when you were that mad. We had a couple of bad days. We need to stay in a good tension there.

Do you have any tips on how we can hold that tension well?

Well, I think the verse is the key. The verse is the answer. And what is the antidote in culture? People want to say you need to be present in the moment. The gift of being present. I think Jesus is alluding to that, right? Pay attention to right now. If I can’t do that, I’m going to walk by Zacchaeus in a tree and I won’t even be able to help him because I’m in the past or I’m so fixated on the future. Someone’s got to pull my jacket because they need healing, and I won’t stop to realize virtue went out of me. I won’t be able to do it because my mind is somewhere else. I think the key to life is being present. Today I am receiving forgiveness and have the strength to give forgiveness. That’s the challenge of today.

One of my favorite preachers, Jensen Franklin, was at our conference. He calls them weapons of mass distraction. That’s the bottom line: we’re so distracted with so many other things than the present and what’s in front of us today.

What do you do personally to keep your focus on God?

Yeah, I mean, I’m probably the most boring person. I have to apologize. My wife gets so mad at me. She’s like, you want to eat at the same place, the same meal, at the same time, every single day. I just kind of live a little bit robotic, probably. Some of that’s really healthy. It allows me to get up every morning, make my coffee, sit down and read my Bible. I did it this morning. I did it the day before. I did it the day before and I’ll do it again tomorrow. And that allows me to set my intention for the day, dedicate my day and start off with gratitude, start off with awareness.

I always say, “Okay, God, today is your day. I’m very thankful. If you would like to put me into a divine appointment moment, I’m going to have eyes and ears to see that. Whatever you want to do.” I think it starts with that. It starts with the intentionality of setting that in life. I think you’re going to get whatever you go for. I just believe that. So setting that intention to be used by God and I think the rest starts to take care of itself.

It really is something as simple as being intentional. It doesn’t have to be hard, and I think that most of us just forget that so quickly. If I don’t do that, I can forget my commitments, my convictions. I could start to erode and leave who I really want to be. So I need some things in my life that keep those guardrails there.

Other theologians and historians would call this “spiritual disciplines.” I call it boring stuff.

What does it do to us spiritually when we remain present?

The greatest ability is availability. And so I think it’s always about trying to get your ego out of the way, get your pride, your disappointment, your rejection, all the issues you’re dealing with, to wash that, heal that, cleanse that, to allow the love of Jesus to be poured into us. Because if it’s poured in, it will naturally flow out.

So I think it becomes very important. Paul goes to Timothy, hey, there’s a lot of vessels in a house. Only a few are really useful. And see, you’ll set yourself apart to be useful for the master. So what good am I if I’m distracted, discouraged, defeated, disobedient, all those things that could so easily entangle? The sin that so easily entangles, I can get caught up in that fast. So I’ve got to spend these times dying to myself. God, please today, you increase and let this joker decrease. Because if I increase, I’m going to steer us into a bad path probably. But I trust you to lead me and to guide my life. And so I call you my Lord, you are in control.

I think that stuff like that is very important. I think that’s where these daily confessions, these daily affirmations are important. I think we can never underestimate the power of identity, knowing who you are, knowing what you’re about, your vision, values, and standards, the mission of your life. Jesus is sneaking away, slipping away to the wilderness to pray. He comes back with purpose.

And you see him model that for us. I heard someone say a long time ago, don’t give the best part of your day to people. Give the best part of your day to yourself and to God, and that time that’s so valuable, so overlooked. It is not rocket science. And Jesus says to us in Revelation, hey guys, I wish you were either hot or cold. That would be even easier to work with. But you get stuck in this lukewarm, I’m kind of in, I’m kind of out, I’m wishy-washy, I wanna, and it’s like, he’s like, I spew you out of my mouth. So if he wants me to be hot or cold, I’m definitely not gonna live my life cold. I’m gonna do my best to live hot. So how do I throw logs on the fire? What are the things that keep me on fire, motivated, inspired, and excited? Convicted, well, all of that comes from God’s presence. So I better get there.

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