A few weeks ago I had an optometrist appointment. I had to read the chart, look into several different machines, and I had a test where they put drops in my eyes that dilated the pupils. No matter what I did, I had trouble maintaining focus on anything. I could not read and I definitely could not drive.
As church planters, my wife Anna and I have seen many wonderful ways in which the Kingdom is being built. We have seen how the Spirit of God is raising up new expressions of church to share the gospel in new and innovative ways. But at the same time, we have seen and experienced things that would cause us to lose focus on what God is calling us to do. Here are a few pitfalls that we have become aware of and want to share with you, to help you keep your focus in light of everything going on around you:
- Lack of a clear, compelling, and simple vision - This one might seem obvious, but it goes without saying that if you can’t simply articulate what you are trying to accomplish in 20-30 seconds then no one else will be able to either. In the last few years I have sat down with many pastors from different churches and asked them what they were trying to do in ministry. Very few of them could actually share what they felt God was calling them to focus on in ministry. Work out a vision for your life, and your personal ministry, and don’t be afraid to share it with others. Make it short and sweet and then live it.
- Not being present – There are many reasons for not being around and some of them are pretty good - educational opportunities, speaking engagements, work, conferences, retreats, etc… These are all great ideas in and of themselves, but if you are constantly travelling, who will lead back home? We have had to turn down several interesting travel opportunities lately because we know that first and foremost, we are called to be there for our new Church plant, Summit Campus Church, as it grows and develops. Without leadership focusing on the church, particularly in its infancy, it will not develop the way God intends. The same can be said for your focus. Decide now how many times it is OK to be away, and for what reasons, and stick to it.
- Not Focusing on Your Family and Yourself – This statement might seem a little selfish to make but then it begs the question, “If you are not taking the time to look out for yourself and for your family, who will?” If we are constantly giving and not feeding our own souls, we become dry and burned out. Likewise, if we are not there to meet the needs of our families, we are not really living out the message God calls us to share. We must be intentional about times for ourselves and our families, so care for yourself and your family. Spend time together in God’s word and prayer, go on vacation, head to the park or beach, enjoy dinner and a movie, and do the things that fill your soul and give you energy for the road ahead.
- Not Focusing on Investing in other Leaders – Having met a lot of other leaders in a short amount of time, I have been quite impressed by the “let’s do” attitude I have found. Yet that same attitude can cause us to take on more than we should and to not properly invest in and train others to do the same work we are passionate about. If we want what we start to survive, we need to focus our time and energy on equipping people for the “good works God has prepared them in advance to do.”
While this list was by no means exhaustive, it hopefully will get you thinking about the things that could derail your life and personal ministry. Take some time to pray through this list and ask God which of these applies to you. And take some time to think it through and see if there is something that was not listed that is causing you to lose focus and then take the time to put the focus back where it belongs!