Are You Focusing on the Obstacle or the Opportunity?

Many people fail at work and in life because they focus too much on the obstacle rather than the opportunity. I’m sure it’s often true in my own organization. Perhaps it is in yours.

“David Slaying Goliath” from the

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/GrayEgg

When something goes wrong, we spend hours dissecting it. We often refer to these sessions as post mortems—which literally means “after death.” Shouldn’t that be a clue that we are on the wrong track?

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I am not suggesting we should stick our heads in the sand. But I do think we should spend more of our time and other resources focused on what we want to create, where we have been successful, and how we can leverage our strengths.

The story of David and Goliath provides an excellent example of someone who focused on the opportunities rather than the obstacle.

Thousands of sermons have been preached about this story. Hundreds of books have been written. But as I was reading the story again this past weekend in 1 Samuel 17, I was struck by how useful it is in a business or leadership context.

Before David arrived on the battlefield, everyone was focused on the problem—Goliath. No wonder. This champion of the Philistines was nine feet, four inches tall (v. 4). It was difficult to ignore him.

Moreover, Goliath had a solid bronze helmet, a bronze coat of mail that weighed 125 pounds, and bronze shin guards. His size, coupled with his armor and a personal shield bearer, made him virtually invincible (vv. 5–6).

But in addition to being a one-man fortress, Goliath possessed a frightening offensive weapon. He had a bronze javelin that was “the size of a weaver’s beam” (think, mini-telephone pole) with a 15-pound iron spearhead (v. 7).

On top of that, he is hyper-confident and belligerent. He defied God, taunted the Israelites, and challenged them to a fight (vv. 8–11). The Israelites had endured his dramatic theater for forty days (v. 16).

In the midst of this, David arrives on the scene and sees Goliath for himself. Just as the Israelites begin (again) to run away, one of them mentioned to David that the king had offered a huge reward to anyone who could defeat Goliath. That caught David’s attention.

… it shall be that the man who kills him the king will enrich with great riches, will give him his daughter, and give his father’s house exemption from taxes in Israel” (v. 25).

To summarize, the king had offered three rewards to the man who could defeat Goliath:

  1. He would receive great riches.
  2. He would get to marry the king’s daughter.
  3. He would be granted a lifetime tax exemption.

David could hardly believe his ears. He asked another man standing nearby, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (v. 26).

Suddenly, the problem didn’t look so big. David began to shift his focus off Goliath and onto the opportunity.

Predictably, someone objects. (Someone always objects when you start tackling big problems they think are insurmountable.) Eliab, David’s oldest brother, was first in line (v. 28):

  1. He attacked David’s motive: “Why did you come down here?”
  2. He attacked David’s identity: “And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness?” He subtly reminds him he is a shepherd not a soldier.
  3. He even attacked his character: “I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.”

But David ignored his brother and asked another Israelite about the opportunity: “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel?” (v. 30).

Perhaps if it had been us, we would have spent more time focusing on the problem—analyzing Goliath, digging deeper into the problem, and trying to understand the various options before us. Not David.

Even King Saul, who had posted the reward—and didn’t have any other viable options—tried to talk David out of challenging the giant (v. 33). To add insult to injury, Goliath made fun of David, cursed him, and began running toward him (vv. 41–44). That must have been a frightening sight.

But David didn’t flinch. He declared His confidence the God who performs miracles (vv. 45–47). Rather than running away from the giant, the text says,

David hurried and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth.”

This made me reflect on my own approach to life. I wonder how much more successful I would be in tackling big problems if I would look past them and focus on the opportunities on the other side. How about you?

Question: Where is your focus, on the opportunity or on the obstacle? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • MandyThompson

    I very much needed to read this today. Actually, yesterday; but close enough. I’ve been focusing on the self-inflicted Goliath’s in my life, instead of giving importance to the opportunities before me. Wow. This post is great timing. GREAT timing. Thank you.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Excellent. I am so glad.

  • http://twitter.com/doughibbard Doug Hibbard

    Back when I was an area supervisor in a UPS hub, we ran into this a lot. There were deadlines to meet and packages to get into trucks to get moved on. There were people on both sides of me in the organizational chart that would spend hours trying to talk about whose fault it was that it wasn’t getting done, taking away from the effort to get it done. Fix the problem first, lay the blame second, after the problem is solved. Then you know if you really need to lay any blame!

    • http://twitter.com/BLichtenwalner Ben Lichtenwalner

      I’ve seen that environment too many times in my career, Doug. The root-cause of this blame-game and energy drain has always been a lack of trust. Too many people trying to outrun their companions when the bear chases them.

      To relate it back to Goliath, fear of consequences, in business, not only drives poor performance, it also drains resources. As Michael pointed out, we end up spending too much time and money discussing the problem – seeking excuses not to take the risk.

      Thank you for sharing!

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  • Anonymous

    Amazing how much courage you have to face risks and tackling the issue when you are listening to God and his direction.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Amen to that. It is so hard to hear that still, small voice when there are so many loud ones ringing in our ears.

      • http://twitter.com/BLichtenwalner Ben Lichtenwalner

        “I never second-guessed the little voice I heard. It’s just a whisper, that sounded like a scream. I ain’t never felt so free.” -NeedToBreathe (Valley of Tomorrow)

  • http://fearfultofearless.com Jeff

    Our previous experiences in trusting God are an encouragement that prepares us when undertaking new battles for Him.

    David said to Saul, Your Majesty, no one should be afraid of this Philistine! I will go and fight him. I have killed lions and bears, and I will do the same to this heathen Philistine, who has defied the army of the living God. The Lord has saved me from lions and bears; he will save me from this Philistine. ~ 1 Samuel 17:32, 36-37 (GNT)
    http://fearfultofearless.com/index.php/1-samuel-173236-37/

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  • Larcampbell

    Thank you for your post. I have been battling many Goliaths in my new pursuit as a full-time writer. Losing sight of the possible rewards to my writing has caused me to focus entirely on my frustration and writers block, which only exacerbates the problems. Perhaps, making a list of the rewards and place them in my work space would prove to be motivational and give me the strength to overcome my fears. Laura Campbell

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      When I write my first book, I made a list of what I wanted to accomplish with my book. I reviewed the list and prayed over it every single morning. It was a huge help to my in overcoming the giants inside my own head. Thanks.

  • www.therextras.com

    Good things come to those who wait, eh, Michael? If this was the post in which you were ‘stuck’ while writing, it was worth the wait.

    I hate to think of the many small groups of people I have been employed with in the past who responded as those in the story of David overcoming Goliath. But the reminder of them in the context of David’s behavior is encouraging. Thanks.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Actually, this post came pretty quickly—basically an airplane trip to Dallas. However, I read the story on Sunday and had been mulling it over for a few days.

  • http://twitter.com/epicparent epicparent.tv

    Michael, I really want to thank you for this post. I have some very touch challenges I am facing right now, I can have a tendency to place too much emphasis on the challenges vs. the opportunities. Reading this was divine for me today. thank you.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love it when God sends us help when we need it. I am honored to have played a small role in that. Blessings!

  • http://www.validleadership.com James Castellano

    If we are focused on an opportunity and understand the obstacles we’ll encounter and the rewards we will achieve. The obstacles will be easier to overcome. They wont go away, but we’ll have the right mind set. There are times when the obstacle has to be focused upon and dealt with.

  • Mark McKeen

    My mom used to have a little sign on our fridge that read, “Nothing will happen today that the Lord and I cannot handle together.” I am also reminded that God does not call the equipped, He equips the called.

    • http://www.momentsofgracelotr.com Anne Marie

      I love that last sentence! So true.

      God bless, Anne Marie :)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Beautiful. Definitely fridge-worthy!

  • http://transformedbyfaith.wordpress.com Rana

    This is my life’s lesson! God opened my eyes several years ago to the reality that this is how I operated, always looking at the obstacles and never focused on the possibilities. After much research on the story of the Promised Land I have learned that unfortunately most of us are wired to focus on the “giants.” The great news I have come to realize, however, is that with God anything is possible! We can become like the two spies who went before the Israelites, believing and saying, “Yes, we can take over the land!” There will be obstacles. There will be battles. But God is fighting for us!

    My life is forever changed because of this lesson. I now take opportunities I never would have before and have learned that despite the negative feedback of the world around me, that God is in control. If we’ll keep Him first, we’ll win every time!

    Great post! So many need to hear, know, and believe the truth in this great lesson. It can change lives!

  • http://twitter.com/jtpedersen JT Pedersen

    So many have made excellent comments before me, yet I feel it important to comment as well. Your article serves to give us an excellent reminder of something we tend to forget…if we ever learned it at all.

    This also makes me think about my son playing video games. He prefers to eliminate -all- targets prior to moving onto the goal. How much quicker might the game be played if he chose to ignore everyone just making noise and being a distraction, and going straight for the goal.

    As I continue my own search for work, this is indeed a helpful reminder.

    Cheers,
    JT…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      May the Lord bless you in your search and lead you to just the right job. Thanks.

  • http://www.howtobeatree.com TJ

    Just a thought: as David focused on the opportunity, he also didn’t allow someone else’s ideas to accomplish his task to be forced upon him. David, a boy, was handed the armor of a man to protect himself. He was expected to fight like the other’s would have gone before the giant. Instead, David, having confidence in God, trusted what he knew, how he was trained, and in himself to fight the giant in the way God wanted him to fight the giant–with stones and a sling, not a sword. Often, we must seek God, rely on our own experiences, have confidence in who God made US in order to overcome the huge battles that are put before us. We must not feel obligated to try on the ways of anyone else, but to seek God ourselves for direction and guidance!

    • Anonymous

      I think it’s rich that Saul, who didn’t have the guts to face Goliath himself, thought he could help David somehow.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        I know. It is classic. Saul was a piece of work, wasn’t he?

  • http://bretmavrich.posterous.com/ Bret Mavrich

    You know, I think David learned this lesson and then later used this principle to motivate the men he lead. Joab led the harrowing/heroic conquest of the city of Zion after David promised that whoever took Zion would be promoted to the head of the army.

    But my question is how do we apply this lesson to our lives when there is no explicit reward? So often life feels like a mob of Goliaths without the tax incentive to defeat them.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think we have to take time to articulate the reward—or the goal. It doesn’t have to be material. It might just be the satisfaction of knowing we have been faithful stewards.

      • http://bretmavrich.posterous.com/ Bret Mavrich

        That’s helpful. I get it now.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Interesting question! Opportunity or Obstacle? I would say opportunity more than obstacle. Obstacles do stand in my path. But, I feel God has given us the discernment to choose wisely rather than complaining about the system. While confronting a situation with dilemma, we need to be creative and innovative enough to cross over the tide. In this world, there is no overnight success.

    One way to overcome the obstacle is ‘keeping the end in mind’. The long term vision will give us the energy and focus to face any situation with optimism. Even while facing a deadlock situation, we can have faith and hope in Him. We, Christians, are gifted with that special privilege. To me, between hope and despair, hope is always a better choice.

    The major difference between identifying opportunity or obstacle is our perception and attitude. Positive mental attitude, forward thinking and spiritual bent of mind will make all the difference.

  • Ed VanDeMark

    Thank you.

  • http://www.embracepositivepassion.com Georgiana

    What a wonderful analogy to use as we face Goliath obstacles everyday! Thank you for your inspiration and encouragement on emphasizing where our focus in life should be when we encounter inevitable trials and tribulations. On the other side of these monstrosities lies rewarding opportunities that are ours to behold. :-)

  • http://www.embracepositivepassion.com Georgiana

    What a wonderful analogy to use as we face Goliath obstacles everyday! Thank you for your inspiration and encouragement on emphasizing where our focus in life should be when we encounter inevitable trials and tribulations. On the other side of these monstrosities lies rewarding opportunities that are ours to behold. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/PritchardMP Michael Pritchard

    This was a great encouragement this morning! The Lord has given me a new direction for 2011 that seems pretty insurmountable to me, and it has been easy to look at how big the obstacles are instead of focusing on the huge opportunity. I love the part of David’s story where he runs towards Goliath. I hope to be like him in that way.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      The part about David running toward Goliath was my favorite part, too. I love that he leaned into the problem rather than, like his countryman, running from it!

  • http://bretmavrich.posterous.com/ Bret Mavrich

    I just noticed that the Goliath in your picture has a SERIOUS head wound from David’s stone. It’s gushing. I bet Goliath’s friends used to push his buttons just to see that gigantic vein pop out of his forehead.

  • Anonymous

    David’s approach paid other dividends, in addition to removing the problem before him. He actually changed the perspective of many of the people who were watching. After awhile, seemingly everybody started killing giants!

    http://cflemming.com/ripeforharvest/archives/927

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I’m sure that was true!

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    I love this story. Mostly because I’ve dealt with the same questions you deal with here. How often do I let the problem seem insurmountable and forget to see what blessings might be hiding on the other side? More often than I’d like to admit. My prayer is that I’m learning to catch more and more of these opportunities as they arrive, rather than see what I should have seen after it’s all over. Thanks for posting this!

  • http://twitter.com/rickhubbelltimc rick hubbell

    Mike,

    Tremendously encouraging to a project I am working on – more than you could know! Can not possibly be a coincidence. Your points are well-taken, skillfully crafted and thought provoking.

    There is a martial arts principal probably familiar to some – that when breaking a board, for example – aim the strike past the target. Aiming beyond the target better ensures that the board will beak. I suppose that’s what happens when we look beyond the Giant.

    Better keep an eye on him too, though; at least before he’s fallen.

    You are really cranking out some quality posts. Thank you for engaging the tribe…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for sharing this martial arts principle. I have heard that before but didn’t connect the application to this, until now. That is pretty compelling.

  • http://missionalmamassoul.blogspot.com/ FlyinPeru

    Sometimes we need reminding to see the glass half full instead of half empty. Thanks!

    (Your post reminded me of a book I just finished entitled Your Child’s Strengths which talks about focusing on strengths and teaching toward those. It was great and required a focus shift as well)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Marcus Buckingham focuses on strengths in his books as well. This has been a huge influence on me. Thanks.

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  • Anonymous

    I need a few more tax exemptions. I wonder who I need to kill to get them. HA!

    Wow, great timing on this post. I’m getting to an end of a season. The next season is bringing excitement but a lot of anxiety too. This is a great reminder to keep pressing forward.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Just between us: I wrote this to myself. I figured it might be helpful to others as well. ;-)

  • http://twitter.com/astridparamita Astrid Paramita

    Wow, thank you for this post! It made me realized how big of a Goliath I made by myself in the past weeks, and how big the efforts I had made just to avoid Goliath.
    I hope we’ll all be inspired by your post and start getting the opportunities :)

  • http://www.danieldecker.net Daniel Decker

    Love it when you pull in a Biblical story with a leadership and application perspective. :)

    Obstacles are everywhere and they aren’t going away. That’s why I love surrounding myself with, and helping to build up, Solution Seekers. Anyone can see the problem but only those who seek out a solution will change the game.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Daniel. I love these bible stories, too. They are brimming over with lessons for teachable leaders. Thanks.

  • TNeal

    God prepared David long before the big crisis called Goliath. In David’s comments, he noted that God delivered the lion and the bear into his hands. In the isolated moments, far from public scrutiny or admiration, David learned two lessons–one of God’s faithfulness and the other of God’s gifting. He applied both lessons in the public arena when he fought Goliath. Thanks for helping me to reflect and remember now in my moment of isolation I am developing skills and a trust relationship in the Lord to meet tomorrow’s Goliaths.

  • http://www.adaptationsoflife.com/ Jack Heimbigner

    That makes a lot of sense. One of the things we do in our organization is focus on “falling forward.” We focus on how we move forward, not backwards because of obstacles or failures. Its one of my favorite parts about our organization, that we move forward.

  • http://twitter.com/CoachDanFoster Dan Foster

    Thanks Mike! This was perfect today. I have to admit sometimes I do focus too much on the problem instead of the opportunity. Its hard to get past all the voices trying to get you to focus on the problem and/or telling you their is no opportunity. Again, thanks for the post. Saved to my favorites. Dan

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Dan. I usually write to the problems I am personally experiencing. I have that tendency, too!

  • http://www.gospellab.com Gospel lab

    When faced with big obstacles people sometimes hide behind prayer.

    Prayer is very important in our daily lives, but sometimes people use prayer as an excuse to delay or avoid an obstacle altogether. The prayer I am talking about is the prayer people use to see if God wants them to get involved or not and they keep saying they are “praying” about it. I don’t recall David saying he had to pray about it before accepting the challenge to fight Goliath. To David it was a no-brainer, the enemy had defied his God so it was time to fight.

    When we are faced with obstacles that are no-brainers, the prayer we should be praying is, “OK God, how many stones do I need?”

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Great point. I loved the fact that David ”activated” and get right into the fight. His countryman had been shaking in fear for over 40 days. He showed up and took action on the spot. You gotta love that!

  • http://www.momentsofgracelotr.com Anne Marie

    I agree with the great timing of this post. I just finished 1776 by David McCullough and that also shows the miracles that can happen when one is focused on the goal and not the terrible obstacles in the way.

    God bless, Anne Marie :)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That is such an awesome book—probably one of my top ten favorites. Like David, there is no way the Americans should have won that war. They were completely outgunned by the British. It was a miracle.

  • http://twitter.com/comedyillusions comedyillusions

    We have faced many giants in our lives and it is often only AFTER we have defeated the giant that we see the opportunity that lies beyond it. When I battled with alchoholism, it appeared to be a battle that could not be won and yet there did not really appear to be any great opportunity on the other side. It was only after I had sobered up (and quit all mood altering chemicals) that I saw the opportunities. This included the opportunity to help others and be a support to them. There have been a number of other giants that we have battled and we have only been focused on the obstacle until after the battle.

    When we left/sold our Professional Land Surveying Firm to become full time faith missionaries we were able to use these experiences of the past to help us to see the opportunities that lay ahead. We could finally look forward, past the obstacles, to the opportunities that God had for us.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It is interesting that David drew upon his experiences of fighting lions and bears to give him the faith to tackle Goliath.

      Thanks for your comment.

  • http://twitter.com/ThatGuyKC K.C. Procter

    Having grown up in the church I’ve heard this story countless times. Regardless it never ceases to amaze me how it can be shared anew with fresh insight. Thank you.

    Another aspect of David & Goliath that I was reminded of recently was David’s work experience. While guarding his father’s sheep he would’ve had to kill lions and bears. In comparison to fangs and claws Goliath probably didn’t seem as intimidating.

    And the focus on opportunity rather than the problem helped as well. :)

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Thankfully David didn’t have to deal with government bureaucrats before he fired off his sling. He would have had to make sure he had an OSHA approved sling, and inspected his rock to assure he wasn’t endangering some species somewhere. Then after taking Goliath down he would have had to offer the Philistines relocation benefits, welfare, and state approved health care. Somehow the opportunities seemed better back then… :-)

  • Gailhyatt

    I heard Mike give a talk on this yesterday at the Women Of Faith office in Texas. It was fabulous. So glad to see it written down. Thanks, Honey. :-)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You are welcome, Sweetie. ;-)

  • Anonymous

    David was not looking at the rewards Saul offered. God would not have let David prevail if he was after wealth, sex and power. The opportunity here was to honor God.

    Read what David said to Goliath, “46…This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand . . . that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.”

    He was going to fight and win because God would be glorified.

    What I always like is how things are called a David & Goliath story when it’s a small thing against a big thing. What people miss is that Goliath was the small thing, because David had God on his side.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I assumed someone would bring this up. Thank you. I think it is both/and. Yes, he was jealous for God’s honor. And he fought for it. But he also asked three times about the reward. I don’t think these are mutually exclusive. Thanks.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I assumed someone would bring this up. Thank you. I think it is both/and. Yes, he was jealous for God’s honor. And he fought for it. But he also asked three times about the reward. I don’t think these are mutually exclusive. Thanks.

      • Anonymous

        David was a man after God’s own heart, not when he dwelt on temporal wealth and sex, but when he honored God and (when confronted) always admitted he was wrong.

        Your article first emphasized what appeared to be a big problem, Goliath. The pairing of such a large, seasoned warrior against a shepherd boy should emphasize that the size of the problem is irrelevant compared to God—he’s bigger than any problem.

        David became King because of his glorying God, not because he focused on materialism. The obstacle (Goliath) was trivial to David because of his faith and reliance on God. That was why he was fearless, not because of the reward. He essentially told everybody, “hey, God prepared me for this challenge when I was a shepherd, now he’s going to use me to get rid of this obstacle.”

        Sure, they probably weren’t mutually exclusive, but your article did exclude. More importantly, the article said, “Suddenly, the problem didn’t look so big. David began to shift his focus off Goliath and onto the opportunity.” That statement alone said that David’s motivation and source of fearlessness was greed.

        The Bible does not teach greed. It teaches reliance on God, patience in adversity, even deference of wealth; as believers all have a greater reward.

        “This made me reflect on my own approach to life. I wonder how much more successful I would be in tackling big problems if I would look past them and focus on the opportunities on the other side. How about you?”

        I think it depends on what you see is the opportunity. To me, tackling a big problem is in breaking it down. I just don’t worry about the size. I don’t necessarily worry about success or failure; just on learning how to overcome a problem. I trust God to put me where he needs me to be to do what he wants me to do. Success is superfluous.

      • Anonymous

        We can learn from the fact that David asked about the reward 3 times in this, yes he saw the opportunity, but he didn’t just jump in. He did his research first. He knew that he could win the battle (plenty of practise at killing moving objects) but he also considered the reward against the risk. Just because we can see an opportunity in life doesn’t mean that it is one we should chase after, we need to consider the potential costs as well as the potential rewards.

  • Tamara

    Not to sound self-centred here, but I feel like you wrote this post just for me. Thank you for jarring me into a more positive, productive outlook. This is a great reminder of how building something remarkable is the best way to get beyond a victim mindset.

  • Anonymous

    It’s about keeping our eyes on Christ, not on the circumstances of our lives.

    I love this example of David and Goliath. If David had been focused on the circumstances (HUGE giant, big sword, no weapons, etc.), he would have been stuck in the same camp as the rest of the Israelites. However, he was focused on God – trusting in His strength and power – seeing the opportunity beyond the obstacle.

    Thanks for the great reminder as we look towards the opportunities coming our way in the new year!

    • http://bretmavrich.posterous.com/ Bret Mavrich

      I think you’re right. The big reason that the reward outweighed the risk for David was he had certainty that God would triumph over Goliath. That certainty had come from his wilderness years where he had seen God’s strength come upon him to ward off lions and bears from his father’s flock. That day, his other Father’s flock was in danger.

  • Patricia Zell

    One of the most helpful practices I have in difficult situations ( or any situation) is to rely on Paul’s words in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” By asking God to work good for everyone involved, my focus moves from the weakness of human effort to the power of God’s absolute love. I also ask Him for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom because He sees much more than I see. I am so glad that I can rely on Him.

  • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com @kylelreed

    I tend to want to focus on the negative. So I think I focus on both the obstacle and the opportunity. I use the obstacle to motivate me towards the opportunity.

    This might be cheesy to quote John Maxwell here, but he says this:
    “Whiners shrink from the challenge
    Winners stretch from the challenge.”

    I have had that statement pasted up in my shower since I was a JR in high school (that was 7 years ago). I tend t be a whiner more then a “winner” and often see the obstacle first.
    But the challenge and opportunity is so great that is pushes me forward to see what can happen.

  • Anonymous

    I love the story of David & Goliath (and all that led up to it and all that followed)!

    Some years ago it was common to hear people raise the challenge “think outside the box”. I always respond to that with “what box?”. I’m definitely one to see opportunity rather than obstacles. God doesn’t give us challenges we can’t overcome with His gracious support. It’s when we forget that He’s got our back that we find ourselves in trouble.

  • Jack

    excellent article JJ “If you think you can You Can” “If you think you cant,t Guess What You Can,t” Keep em comin JJ You Rock

    Jack Penniston

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  • Anonymous

    What a great post, Michael! I am actually going through an inductive Bible study on the life of David (Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado). This was right on! As 1 Samuel goes on, David begins to take his focus off God and on to himself. Our strength comes from God!
    If we are not focused on him when obstacles come our way, there is no way we can successfully defeat them!

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  • http://helenmargarita.blogspot.com/ Helen Bratko

    This is convicting, thanks for your thoughts. I’m new to your blog, I appreciated one of your posts, so it’s on my Reader now. Anyway, I’m asking myself WHY do I focus on my problem, well, I guess I’d rather get mad about it and be a victim, than look past it. I somehow think if I focus on the problem, I have more control over it. Which doesn’t really make sense. Focusing on the problem actually makes me feel powerless and hopeless. Focusing on problems can almost be like an addiction. Despite reason, I don’t want to let go. I guess some prayer and repentance is in order.

  • http://www.inteliwise.com VirtualAgent

    This is easy to say when this isn’t presently happening to someone personally, but when faced with the obstacle, it can be a struggle to remain strong. I guess practice and reminders can help a lot, and the best kind of support from families and friends can definitely make it easier.

  • RAAckerman

    We all spend more time learning from failure than success- because we can’t figure out why we failed and don’t want to do it again. This is the flip side- focusing on the opportunities provides us with the psychic energy to tackle those “larger than life” obstacles, even if they turn out to be pebbles under our feet.
    Thanks for reminding us of this need.
    Merry Christmas and a wonderful new year to you and yours.

  • http://www.christopherscottblog.typepad.com/ Christopher Scott

    I’m always working hard to focus on the “opportunity” instead of the “problem.”

    But this is difficult because it is often easier to see the problem, as it is more obvious and “in your face” than the opporunity.

    Opportunities have to be looked for. Often, they are not seen on the surface, but it takes someone who is tough and resilient to look past the problem to find the opportunity.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on David’s perspective from 1 Samuel 17. 1 Samuel 17:45-47 is one of the first passages of scripture I have memorized as a new Christian. After reading those three verses, you can clearly see the amazing courage David displayed.

  • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff Goins

    I’m a problem-solver, so I often focus on obstacles. Not always a good thing. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Johnbadair

    As a preacher, I have to admit that I have preached on David & Goliath, and many times on overcoming obstacles through the power of God. But so often I have been hypocritical. I have analized a situation to death and lost the opportunity: ergo, I failed. I have had many mini successes, but never any real giant-slaying successes. By God’s grace and power, from now on, I plan on thinking like David, instead of his brother, whom God passed over because of a bad heart. Thanks for the article.

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  • ReRe1908

    I am always amazed at the obstacles that I create for myself… Sometimes thinking that there were created only to talk myself out of it. My biggest obstacle is me… I have a complete manuscript saved on my pc… Edited to the point that if I edit anymore I will have blank pages. (LOL!!!).. Ok so now I’m fed-up and disgusted with my behavior and ready to make a move…But why does it have to take many sermons heard, many scriptures read, and reading this article to make me realize how long I’ve looked at the problem (of me) to see that I need to focus on the opportunity…. SMH (shakin’ my head)…..

  • http://twitter.com/2020VisionBook Joshua Hood

    Michael…are you sure you weren’t called to preach? ;) Great post. Our focus determines our attitude. Our attitude determines our outlook. And our outlook determines our outcome.

    Joshua Hood
    2020visiononline.org

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  • rbodenstab

    Much need word today!  I will focus on the opportunities that God gives to me, even in the most difficult of situations. 

  • http://www.proverbsandbiz.wordpress.com/ Brandon Helderop

    One thing I love about this story is not only is it someone striving for opportunities instead of focusing on obstacles and hinderances, it’s a story of the underdog coming out on top. I’m reminded of Romans 8:31 which says, “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”. Also, verse 37 of that same chapter which says, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us”. That’s the truth. If God is for us (and with us) then those obstacles don’t look so big anymore.

    Great insight from a great Bible story Michael. Thanks!

    Brandon

  • Leah

    Wow, the convenience of this post in my life right now is astonishing! 

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  • http://www.gabbingwithgrace.com/ Grace at {Gabbing with Grace}

    For those BIG problems (or just opportunities I’m just deathly afraid of) I HAVE TO look at the rewards or I’m down for the count…the potential and the hope and the what-could-be absolutely motivates me to keep going day in and day out.  I have no idea how anyone gets anything done or faces any of their giants without the reward in sight.  I could probably do better at visualizing, mapping and planning out rewards as much as it is within my power to do so.  For example, with money management, I could do a better job with this….and money almost always feels like a giant out to get me, that is hard to face and even ever harder to wrestle into my will. Anyway, great post. thanks, Mikey! =)

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  • ChasHall

    If I spent all the time I normally take to analyze my problems and obstacles on positive movement, I would eliminate most of my problems and obstacles.

  • Munk

    Thank you for this reminder to run toward the challenges rather than from them…it is only as we run toward them that we will fully appreciate the success once we have overcome each obstacle…

  • Ilene Saidel

    I am now running TOWARD the “enemy,” toward the giant, toward the obstacle, toward the opportunity… This was an “on time” message for me. Many thanks and blessings.

  • Kevin Ivey

    Good stuff. Last night wife and I were discussing ‘WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO??’ The problems are legion-the opportunities appeared small at first…UNTIL we began to methodically dissect them. As we talked, the Opportunities grew and our problems began to shrink in size. Thanks for the blog

  • Pam Taylor

    I can gratefully and truthfully say I am more and more focusing on the opportunities rather than obstacles. YAY!

  • B blue

    Thank you for the article Micheal, few months ago I used to focus more on the problem than in the solutions but like David did, I always remind myself who is the God that I serve. when I face a situation, I repeat in my heart:

    “God is able, He is the Alpha, Omega, The Beginning ad the End, the First and the Last, the Creator of the Universe, The King of all kings. if He created the world he can surely deal you my little situation.

  • Sunil Raheja

    Thank you for such a helpful and illuminating application to a timeless story. It is so easy to be focussed on the obstacles rather than the opportunity.

  • Roger Whitney

    I am blessed to be opportunity focused. Unlike David though I struggle in executing them in a big way. David didn’t just test the waters against Goliath. He charged forward confident in God.

  • Rick Conklin

    Michael,
    I have enjoyed your posts for quite a long time.  However I must disagree regarding David’s motivation when he defeated Goliath.  It is clearly not the motivational / incentive package offered by Saul.

    The key to 1&2 Samuel are the bookends of (a) Hannah’s prayer in 1 Sam 2 and (b) David’s song in 2Sam 22. Notice how Hannah contrasts those who oppose The Lord vs those he exalts.   (see below).

    1Sam. 2:7 The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts. 
    1Sam. 2:9-10 He will guard the feet of his saints, but the wicked will be silenced in darkness. “It is not by strength that one prevails; those who oppose the LORD will be shattered. He will thunder against them from heaven; the LORD will judge the ends of the earth. “He will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.” 

    David vs Goliath is meant to show how worthless a leader Saul had become and demonstrate the success of a man after Gods own heart.

    Look at the rewards. They are no surprise considering it was Saul who offered them.  They are self centered, not God centered.  At the core they are the same as we have today – money, sex, and power.  The leap from the pasture to Sauls palace by marrying his daughter is a powerful move. 

    Did the rewards get David’s attention? Sure, he’s human. 

    But, David rejected everything offered by Saul.  He rejected the “motivational package”, Sauls advice to David to avoid the battle, and even Sauls armor.  Saul would get zero credit for David’s victory and that included the incentives.

    What was David’s motivation?  He saw cocky Philistines who scoffed are the existence of a powerful God.  He saw his own King and army demoralized.  

    David had two goals that drove him. (a) The name of the living God Almighty struck no fear in his enemies. (b) And worse, his own countrymen had lost faith that this same God cared anymore or was still able to deliver them.

    The army of Israel didn’t need the worlds incentives.  The army of Israel needed a leader who was a man after Gods own heart.  We see David address the issue in these verses.

    1Sam. 17:46-47 This day the LORD will hand you over to me…  and the whole WORLD WILL KNOW that there IS a God in Israel. All those gathered HERE will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and HE WILL give all of you into our hands.” 

    The destiny of the nation turned right here.  David NEVER lost a military battle to anyone.  The Lord exalts those who exalt Him.  David didn’t say, the battle goes to those who demand the biggest incentives.  No, he had something much bigger in mind and God honored that.

    sincerely, 
    Rick Conklin

  • Thomas Tonkin

    Michael, thank you for this post. I see that it has been around for a while, but I now get to see it and for a reason. I came across a similar feeling last Friday night (Good Friday) and posted on my blog (which is lacking in recent content). I will take the liberty for adding the link. It is not a spam or advertisement, it is truly something personal that I would like to share with you and your readers. Thank you for the opportunity. http://www.thomastonkin.com/my-good-friday-post/

  • http://NoPerfectPeopleHERE.com Lon Dean

    What’s interesting to me is that everyone there had the same opportunity but viewed the opportunity as a fearful obstacle. It’s important not to listen to those that do nothing and tell you why you should do nothing also.