The Enemy’s Poisonous Darts: Distraction

To me, poisonous darts really seem to be the stuff of Indiana Jones movies. But the fact is that Satan has poisonous darts pointed in your direction (see Ephesians 6:16). Like the serpent he is (see Genesis 3:1-6; 2 Corinthians 11:3; Revelation 12:9), he stands ready to poison your mind and ruin what the Lord is doing in your life.

But the Bible says we’re not ignorant of Satan’s devices (see 2 Corinthians 2:11). Nehemiah certainly wasn’t. Over the next several months, we’re going to look at his responses to the poisonous darts that were launched at him in the words of Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem in Nehemiah 6.

The first poisonous dart fired at him was the dart of distraction (see Nehemiah 6:1-4). The walls of Jerusalem had been completed in just fifty-two days; the only job remaining was to hang the doors. When the enemy realized that their previous tactics of mockery and massacre weren’t working, they begin an incessant mail campaign to distract Nehemiah. Their goal was to get him to meet up with them to negotiate so they could thwart the completion of the work.

Imagine you’re in the middle of tackling a project that requires intense focus. You’re on a roll with whatever it is, when suddenly the phone rings. It turns out it’s just one of those robocalls, so you hang up, but then you think, I should check my email while I’m at it. And then you say, Hey, I wonder what’s happening on Facebook. By the time you get back to your task two, five, or ten minutes later, you’re wondering, Where was I? That’s what even the briefest distractions can do to us.

Distraction is a wonderful dart to get you off track and decrease your productivity. And Nehemiah’s enemies wanted to interrupt what he was doing on the wall. So they suggested they have peace negotiations on the plain of Ono, which was about thirty miles from Jerusalem and two days’ travel each way.

But Nehemiah didn’t fall prey to this distraction. He kept the main thing the main thing, and he refused to leave the work because he understood that a leaderless project is an aimless project. No negotiation. No compromise.

There are people who would like to distract you and get you off target. “You can do that tomorrow. Let’s watch a movie”—whatever it is. How can you defeat that distraction?

  1. Create distraction-free zones. Put all electronic devices on lockdown, and carve out chunks of uninterrupted time.
  2. Determine your most productive time. I’ve figured out that eight in the morning until noon is my best time. Guard that particular time jealously with your most important tasks.
  3. Discipline your inner child. This is a hard one. Distraction and procrastination are intertwined; procrastination is simply succumbing to distractions to put off work you don’t feel like doing. But not feeling like doing something is no reason not to do it.

Do you need to deflect the dart of distraction today? What steps will you take to combat it?