As a kid, I enjoyed going to the circus. I especially liked watching the jugglers. How did they keep all those balls in the air? When I was about 12 years old, my dad bought me a set of bean bags to practice juggling with. It was fun to try to keep a few of them up in the air at the same time.
The challenge excited me, but often they would all fall to the ground. Our lives as disciple-makers and trainers can feel a bit like we are juggling.
We become very skilled at doing it all. One more meeting. Just one more thing that someone has asked us to help them with. Another ball in the air.
Sadly, these balls can come crashing down in a mess. The goals we hoped to accomplish don’t get done and the passion to see a movement launched dwindles. We face discouragement at our lack of progress.
Obstacles To Starting A Movement
The last six weeks I’ve written about major obstacles to releasing a Disciple Making Movement (DMM). Click here to see the full list. Today’s blog is about one of the biggest obstacles. The inability to focus time and energy on the most important DMM activities is a movement killer.
These most important DMM activities are:
-abundant seed sowing/evangelism,
-finding the person of peace,
-developing and mentoring leaders.
Not Everything Is Equal
Not everything that dances around trying to get our attention has the same eternal value. Some things we do have much greater importance to God.
When I stand before Him do I expect God to ask me about how many meetings I attended for my organization? Or about how many emails I wrote? No. He is going to ask me how faithful I was with what He had specifically given me to do.
These are the things that must carry greater importance for us. The things we know we are called to.
Are you called to see thousands of lost people come into the Kingdom? Do you know that reaching the unreached is your primary calling from God? Then you must be relentlessly committed to staying focused on doing the most vital DMM tasks.
Someone At My Door
Ding-dong. The doorbell to my gate rings. Who is there? I am in the middle of a project and email. I’m already running behind schedule.
I look out the window. It is my neighbor, the one I’ve been praying for every day using my Lost and Saved list. What will I do?
It’s easy. I’ve already decided ahead of time that when lost people on my list come to my door, I am available. I stop what I am doing, welcome them into my home and make some tea.
It’s not the same for the person who calls me on the phone wanting me to speak in their conference on Member Care topics. For them, my automatic response is “I am so sorry. My calendar is already full.”
My priorities have been pre-determined. That makes it easy for me to decide.
“As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” Luke 9:51 NIV
Jesus knew how to focus on the things He was called to do. In some translations it says, He “set His face like a flint.” Jesus was clear, focused and determined to move toward His goal. He was determined to fulfill His destiny. We must be the same.
What competes for your time and attention?
– Meetings (Organizational, Pastor’s gatherings, Conferences, Learning Opportunities/Trainings)
– Email, Phones and Social Media
– The person at our door
– Ministry opportunities not related to DMMs and the Unreached
– Extended Family Responsibilities
Why Don’t We Say “No” To The Demands?
Why are we so easily pulled away from giving time to evangelism? Or disciple-making and leadership development? Below are some possible reasons.
1) We fear offending people or being seen as proud.
Some people think that to prioritize one kind of ministry work over others is proud. This is a common mindset today. All things are equal, and all needs/ministries deserve equal status. This is simply not true! It is, in fact, this very thinking about missions that has kept us from fulfilling the Great Commission (among other things).
Our passion for the lost and our desire to obey God has to be stronger within us than our fear of man. I often tell those I mentor in leadership. “Part of the cost of leadership is being willing to be misunderstood. If you can’t deal with that, you shouldn’t try to do anything great for God.”
2) We haven’t learned the art of saying “no” with grace.
There is a way to say “no” that doesn’t offend. We want to be honoring of others. Their desires and needs are valid and important to them. Please don’t tell them, “What you are asking me to do is not my priority. I am doing what is most important.” No! That would be terrible!
Instead, simply say, “I would love to do that, but I have already made other commitments. I’m so sorry.” Read this article to learn more about saying “No” well.
3) We like the emotional “rush” of feeling needed and important. We get this when we are busy.
Let’s be honest, it feels good to be seen as important. We like the feeling of being valuable and wanted. When people ask us to do things, it feeds our ego.
It also feels good to be included and invited. That too makes it hard to say “no”. If you say “no” often enough, they will stop inviting you.
That is a good thing for your movement, but not so easy on the emotions. These are choices we have to make if we truly care about launching movements among the least, last and lost.
4) Budgeting our time and keeping a planner isn’t part of our cultural background.
For many people, they simply don’t have the habit of scheduling their time. So, at the end of the day, they have done what came to their doorstep, but not the things they really wanted to do. These time management skills may not come naturally, but they can be learned.
What needs to be done to stay focused on what is most important?
Choose your Big Rocks. What are the most important things you need to do to fulfill the vision and destiny God has put on your life? Narrow it down to 4 or 5 main things. Then put those in your life and schedule first. Block out time for them in your calendar or diary.
Pre-determine what you will:
1) Always say “Yes” to
2) Always say “No” to
3) Say, “Let me check my calendar and let you know” about.
That way, at the moment when someone makes a request or offers you a chance to be involved in something, you will know what to do.
I need to write another article about how to train group leaders and trainers in your movement to do this as well. This blog is written more to senior level trainers and movement leaders.
But you can start with teaching them the illustration of the Big Rocks. Begin to train them about how to determine their priorities.
What Is Your Greatest Struggle With Staying Focused?
Let me know what is your biggest challenge in staying relentlessly focused in the comments below or on the Facebook page. I look forward to hearing from you!
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Expectations of friends, family and church. Work.
Friends who I cant see as often. Church is asking for volunteers to run and serve the church. Often feel either guilty or rebellious.
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