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  • Writer's pictureJohn Kim

Circle of Concern

Mark 11:23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain ‘Go throw yourself into the sea’ and does not doubt in their heart that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.” At dinner on Saturday night, our first son Kyan started throwing a tantrum because he didn’t have any food that he liked on the dinner table. I explained a framework developed by Stephen Covey in his bestselling book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” I explained the logic as follows. “We each have certain issues that we’re concerned about. Let’s call that the circle of concern. Then we have some things that we can control, which is the circle of control. The problem is that we are often concerned with things that we have no control over, and that leads to wasted mental effort and undue stress. The circle of concern is bigger than the circle of control, and all the space between the two represents the time you waste stressing about stuff that you can’t change. So if you shrink your circle of concern to the size of your circle of control, you’ll get better outcomes because you’re putting more of your energy into stuff that generates a yield on your effort. Also you’ll be less worried and able to enjoy life more. Like right now you don’t have food that you like, but there’s nothing we can do about that. So instead of throwing a tantrum, maybe you should focus on what you can control. Like if you tell us what you want us to stock for tomorrow’s meal that’s something you can influence.” Since the book came out in 1989, this framework has influenced millions of people and helped them to get better outcomes. It has made a tremendous impact on my life too. But as I walked upstairs to prepare the kids for their daily devotional, I realized that I had it all wrong. “Hey boys, I think I just taught you the wrong thing. See the world says that you should shrink your circle of concern to match the circle of influence so you can maximize your yield on mental energy. But Jesus tells us to increase our perceived circle of influence to match the circle of concern. That means having faith to believe God can change anything when you pray and walk earnestly alongside Him.” I then gave them some examples of times God came through after challenging me to pray for things that the world would tell me were outside of my control. I’ve seen supernatural healing, changes in the weather, and the hardest of hearts melted. Every day I pray for spiritual revival in North Korea, and according to Stephen Covey, that’d be a complete waste of time. But God calls us to have faith that can move mountains. Lord, I pray that I expand my circle of concern today. I come in line with the reality that my circle of influence expands farther than the eye can see. Because greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world. I love you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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