Distractions Of The World

Title: Distractions Of The World
Materials: Photography
Are you up for a fun little test? Sit still for the next 15-30 seconds…without talking, checking your phone, or moving around. Did you try it?

Chances are your mind probably started wandering a bit…ours sure did! What thoughts distracted you from just sitting still? Maybe you thought about checking your Instagram or that to-do list that seems to grow more than shrink, or maybe you thought about how hard it is to sit still for more than 10 seconds. What about God? Did your thoughts fall on Him?

It’s easy to get distracted by worldly concerns and give priority to things that entertain us in the moment. However, when we fill up our days and give whatever leftover time we have to God, we miss out on developing a healthy relationship that brings us the assurance and peace we crave. What distractions are consuming your time?


The alarm clock goes off and you immediately check social media to see what your friends are up to. Your phone buzzes while you’re with a friend and you have to know why. You upload a photo to Instagram and find yourself routinely checking to see how many likes it has. You have a looming deadline but that new show on Netflix is calling your name.

Is keeping up with the latest and greatest distracting you from focusing on God’s goodness and blessing?





You feel like your friends will forget about you if you don’t fill up every spare moment with meetups. A night at home can’t be tolerated unless you have friends coming over. You immediately respond to every text or email that you receive for fear that you might miss out on something fun. You spend too much time sitting on the couch having conversations with people via messenger versus in person.

Is the need to stay connected distracting you from focusing on building actual relationships?





Your to-do list is constantly growing and you can’t seem to get enough done in a day. An exciting opportunity looks more like a burden because you overcommitted your time. You take a day off to relax and feel anxious about not working on projects. You use your busy schedule as an excuse to avoid people or responsibilities. Your priorities are a scramble of work, errands, and relationships…you don’t know where your time disappears to.

Is your busy schedule distracting you from finding rest in God’s Word?





You spend more time shopping for new items at your favorite online shops than you do talking to the people around you. A vlogger promotes a new product and you just have to have one too. The item you were so excited to have last week isn’t so amusing anymore. You tried setting a budget for yourself but the sales have been calling your name and you can’t help but stock up on a few “essentials”. You find self-worth in the items you own.

Is the distraction of having the latest and greatest distracting you from God’s provisions and blessings?





The reflection in the mirror is never good enough. You tried that new workout routine and you still don’t look like that person on Instagram. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of their personal style but you. You worry about not looking perfect all the time and that your friends will say something about it. Someone gives you a compliment and you can’t fully accept it because the voice in your head is telling you it can’t be true.

Is an obsession with beauty distracting you from being assured that your identity is in God?





Your friends are posting photos from all their amazing travels and you feel jealous. You thought you would have seen more of the world by now. You crave the adrenaline of constantly being in a new and exciting place. Work or home life is overwhelming and you just want to escape to someplace else.

Is the distraction of wanting to travel misdirecting your focus from the work God has prepared for you where you are?

Me and My First World Problems

I was leading the high life in one of the world’s coolest cities.

Serving a three-month internship as a copy-editor in Beijing, China, in the online arm of a national newspaper, I enjoyed a life of luxury. I had a fully-furnished apartment at the newspaper’s compound to myself (local employees had to share apartments), was given a monthly allowance of RMB 2000 a month (USD$300, which was the equivalent pay of a fresh Chinese graduate), plus the newspaper was delivered to my doorstep every morning.

If I was feeling a little lazy, I could get a cleaner to clean up my apartment for about RMB 50 (USD$8). I could shop as much as I wanted and dine at expensive restaurants as often as I liked, without having to watch my bank account.

Yes, life was good.

But I soon started finding the littlest of things to complain about. The trivial matters I moaned about ranged from the lack of good coffee to the exorbitant price of a hamburger, and the inconvenience of not being able to log on to Facebook or Gmail.

When I missed snacks and candies from New Zealand—where I live—I asked my sister to send me a care package filled with chocolate biscuits, a fashion magazine (“in English, please, my brains are exhausted trying to read Mandarin”), and a white cotton skirt, because Beijing’s sweltering summer heat was killing me.

Don’t get me wrong. I was very grateful to be given the opportunity to work in China. It was something I had my eyes on for a very long time, and I could hardly believe my ears when I was told I had been given a place at the newspaper. But my human nature got the better of me, and soon, I was complaining at the drop of a hat.

You see, I had forgotten to leave behind that baggage marked “First World Problems” when I headed to China. Having led a comfortable life back home where hunger and poverty are terms I hear of but rarely see, I took everything my host country had graciously offered me for granted.

All that changed one day, however, when I ran into one of the cleaners, a young mother with a primary school aged child, on my way back to my apartment after lunch. It was a particularly hot afternoon and I was hoping to sit in room with the air-conditioner turned up for a bit before going back to work.

She was rummaging through the rubbish heap with a foot-long pole under the noonday sun. The smell from the heap was unbearable. I had half a mind to walk past, but my curiosity got the better of me, so I asked her what she was doing on such a hot afternoon.

She told me that she was fishing for discarded plastic bottles and containers to sell, because she needed every extra dollar.

We soon struck up a conversation, in which I learned of her hopes and dreams. She wanted to get higher education, but had to let the opportunity go to her brother because her family could afford to send only one child to university. That also meant she had to leave her hometown to look for work in a bigger city.

I felt myself growing hot with shame as I stood in front of her with a tertiary education, an office job, and a comfortable apartment (“You’ve a very luxurious unit,” she told me)—and complaining about the heat.

I said I was happy for her to clean my apartment if she needed the extra income. I also extended an invitation to her to have lunch with me and my friends at a nearby restaurant. She declined the invitation.

One day however, she asked me if I could—before leaving China—drop off any of my unused and/or leftover body wash, shampoo, and body moisturiser, along with any food, to her. I was not sure if I had heard her right. Why would she want my leftovers?

But my ears were not playing tricks on me. She said body lotions and other toiletries (especially the American brands) were luxury items for her, so she was willing to pick up anything I did not want. At that instant, my First World Problems immediately disappeared, and I saw things in a different light. I eventually gave her a few unopened packets of chocolate biscuits and enough body lotion to last her a few months before returning to New Zealand.

Have you ever been in a similar situation? If you’ve been fortunate enough—like me—to be suffering from First World Problems, congratulations. This means you are in a position to bless and help those who are less fortunate.

You don’t even have to travel far to lend a hand to the marginalized; just look around you to see how you are able to meet a need. If you have a domestic worker in your home, perhaps you can bless her with a kind word of encouragement or surprise her with a lovely present on her birthday or Christmas. If you know of an old folks’ home or a local orphanage in need of a lick of paint or a clean backyard for residents and children to relax and play in, organize a get-together with your local church to give these places a good spruce up.

Doing good deeds is more than just getting a warm, fuzzy feeling in our tummies knowing that we have helped someone. Whenever we feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and visit the sick, we are doing it for Jesus (Matthew 25:35-40). God wants us to love and to help the marginalized and the less fortunate. We are commanded to “defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed” (Psalm 82:3).

The founder of Christian aid group World Vision, Robert Pierce, once said, “Let my heart be broken for the things that break the heart of God.” Today, will you ask God to show you the things that break His heart, step out, and meet that need?