Understanding focus is like understanding the difference between a flashlight and a laser beam. Both are a type of light, but one is much more focused than the other and more impactful.
Effective Christian ministry requires focus. Without it we may find ourselves dabbling in a hundred different things but not making much difference in any of them.
Focus is a challenge for many of us because we live in a day of multiplied distractions. Many of us go through each day only partially engaged, with our eyes and ears halfway attuned to the conversation in front of us and the other half scrolling something on our cell phone. I literally walked into the corner of a wall recently because I was distracted.
The reality of distraction was highlighted in a Louisville Public Service Announcement asking people to not walk and text as numerous pedestrians had unknowingly walked out in front of moving cars while crossing the street.
How can we maintain important ministry focus?
1. Determine what is most important for your ministry calling: Pastors and leaders have lots of opportunities, but one Lord. The God who made us did so by design. He has gifted and shaped you for a particular purpose. Determine what has God designed you to do in this particular season and give attention to His purpose.
2. Calendar your most important work in advance: If you are preparing a sermon, writing a paper or developing a leadership strategy, then get it on the calendar in a large block of time or multiple smaller blocks. What gets calendared is more likely to get done.
3. Say no to lots of other really good things: This is difficult for me as I have new ideas every day. One well known Christian leader said about himself that even his ideas have ideas. I can relate. Focus requires saying no to many good things that are not the most important things.
4. Schedule time to reflect on your area of focus: Someone has said experience is not the best teacher. Reflective and evaluated experience is the best teacher. Take time to think through your day and ask yourself how much of the clock was spent on mundane, yet necessary, matters versus how much was spent on the primary work related to your calling. Try to devote more time to the most important things.
5. Learn from others who are highly focused: Just like any other muscle, the “focus muscle,” for lack of a better term, must be exercised to become stronger. Spending time with focused people, asking them how they determine their top priorities and stay focused on them and then applying some of their principles and practices can help us grow in our ability to focus.
Being focused sounds like it should be common sense. Like all good habits, though, it takes work, encouragement and prioritization. In the long run, you will be more productive if you are more focused.
How are you discovering priorities and maintaining focus in your everyday life? I would love to hear from you. Send me an email or text with some of your best tips. As we strive towards healthy and focused leadership, will our lives be more like a flashlight or a laser beam?