Adjust your focus

Published 8:12 am Sunday, May 31, 2020

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Do you ever think about how sometimes we focus on the wrong thing? There is this thing called “survivorship bias” or “survivor bias”, which Wikipedia defines as “the logical error of concentrating on the people or things that made it past some selection process and overlooking those that did not, typically because of their lack of visibility. This can lead to false conclusions in several different ways.”

The U.S. armed forces faced a dilemma during World War II. When damaged planes returned with bullet holes everywhere it was determined something was needed to better protect them. A chart showed how the most holes shot were in the wings, the tail and in the middle body of the planes. The focus was on what to do to strengthen these sections of the airplanes, until Abraham Wald, a statistician at the Statistical Research Group showed everyone where the focus needed to be.

He showed how they were focusing on the holes of the damaged planes that made it back home. No one had factored in the damage of the planes that never returned. Everyone was paying attention to the bullet holes in the open spaces within the tail, the wings and the body without even considering how to protect the important stuff like the engine.

You see, the survivorship bias takes our focus off where it should be placed. It didn’t matter how many holes were in the planes that returned. You know why? Because they made it home. The focus needed to be on those that never made it back, on the ones whose engines were shot and beyond repair.

Church, we still have this survivor bias today. We focus more on those who know Christ as Savior more than those who don’t yet understand God’s loving forgiveness and grace. We focus more on our comforts than on the needs of others. We focus more on gaining extra than making sure all have something.

Even in our Bible reading, we often focus on letting our ideas shape our interpretations of the Bible rather than allowing the Bible to shape our ideas.

Over the past two months we have had an opportunity to adjust our focus, and yet, we are still focused on what we have missed, what we don’t have, what we can’t find, etc., instead of what is important. Over and over in scripture we read to love others, to serve, to focus on Christ, to be the good, to forgive, to reach out to those in need, to shine bright. (John 13:34-35; Mark 12:31; Romans 13:8-10; Proverbs 13:20; 1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 4:31-32). Adjust your focus. #bethegood

Rev. J. Cameron Bailey is pastor of Kenbridge Christian Church. He can be reached at jamescameronbailey@gmail. com.