A Relentless Commitment to Focus on the Most Important Activities


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?  Then, 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 my heart sank when frequently all the bags would fall to the ground. Our lives as disciple-makers and trainers can feel a bit like we are juggling. We must be committed to focusing on a few key things.

We can 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. I’m continually guilty of this. There have even been times when I took pride in being able to juggle more things than most people.

Sadly, all these balls often come crashing down in a mess. The goals we hoped to accomplish don’t get done, and our passion to see a movement dwindles. We then feel discouraged by our lack of progress.

Obstacles To Starting A Movement

I’ve written often about the major obstacles to releasing a Disciple Making Movement (DMM). Click here to see the full list. Lack of focus is one of the biggest obstacles. The inability to focus time and energy on vital disciple-making activities is a movement killer.

These most important disciple-making activities are things like:
-abundant seed sowing/evangelism,
-finding the person of peace,
-training new believers,
-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 things must carry greater importance for us. They are what we know we are called and commissioned by Jesus to do.

Do you feel a sense of calling to see thousands of lost people come into the Kingdom? Do you know that reaching the lost is a primary calling from God? Then you must stay relentlessly committed to staying focused on doing the most vital disciple-making 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 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 single-minded. 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 your door
– Ministry opportunities not related to disciple-making and the lost
– Extended Family Responsibilities

Why Don’t We Say “No” To The Demands?

Why are we so easily pulled away from giving time to lost people? 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 over others is proud. This is a common mindset. 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 in us than our fear of man. I often tell those I mentor, “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 honor others. Their desires and needs are valid and important. 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 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 your 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. At the end of the day, they have done what came to their doorstep, but not the things they actually 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, when someone makes a request or offers you a chance to be involved in something, you will automatically know what to do.

What is your greatest struggle with staying focused on disciple-making?

Let me know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.  I look forward to hearing from you!

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  1. Jackie

    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.

  2. Pingback: Which is Most Important - Task or Relationships? - Missionary Life

  3. Val

    There’s many. Small things which are connected to my job and i need to think of. Discouragement for not having other likeminded disciples where i live. Struggles with discipline. Saying “no” to what surges at the moment. Insecurity of what should be priority right now because “maybe” some of those opportunities that surge may be a step which will be open doors to discipleship.

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