It’s hard not to be intrigued by a book with the title 9 things successful people do differently. What could it be that they do that is so powerful and productive?
Of course, my reaction to the title is quite revealing in itself. Perhaps it indicates that I don’t feel that successful. It might indicate that I am subconsciously in search of the golden ticket, the magic key or the silver bullet. Perhaps at some level we all are. Or perhaps we are just curious.
And then of course there is the whole issue of “success”. Are Christians supposed to desire to be successful? But surely we can’t desire to be unsuccessful, can we? Really? However, let’s substitute faithful or fruitful for successful.
So what is it those “successful” people do?
Well, I might share the other things they do in future posts, but today I am going to talk about just one. The primary one: they get specific. They are focused.
Let me make a couple observations.
Focus doesn’t sound that impressive. In fact it sounds encouragingly unimpressive. It is that simple. But don’t think for one moment that simple equates with easy. The ten commandments are simple; the course of human history and the cross of Jesus demonstrate that they are not easy.
I have found that many of the most powerful, most productive things in life are simple not complicated. But they are not always easy.
Let me give you an example. The Bible says encourage one another. Simple. Powerful. If everyone in every church in the UK took five minutes every day to send three encouraging texts or Facebook messages to someone in their church, can you imagine the impact? Pastors would be out of business! But it doesn’t happen. We forget. Or our hang ups hinder us. Or we are too concerned about finding some encouragement for ourselves. In short, it’s difficult.
Does focus have the same importance for fruitful or faithful Christians in the way we are told it does for “successful” people?
I would suggest that focus is certainly evident in the life of Jesus.
Jesus knew why He had come into the world. He had come to serve (Mark 10.45)
He knew who He had come to serve. He had come primarily if not exclusively to reach the lost sheep of Israel (Matthew 15.24)
And He knew how He had come to serve. He would preach, heal, cast out demons and then die and rise again.(Luke 13.31-32; 24.46)
In fact He himself summed up His focus in John 5.19:
“Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
I would suggest that Jesus was extremely focused.
What if you haven’t got focus, or think you might have the wrong focus? The following few questions might help you move in the right direction.
Firstly, know your why. Why are you here? Of course, that is a huge philosophical and theological question! At a more practical level, it is usually revealed by what you are passionate about and where God has currently placed you.
Secondly, know who He has called you to serve. Who are the people God has connected you to? People in your family, work and church circles. People in circles outside of those. How can you serve those people?
Finally, think about how God has called you to serve. This is to do with your particular gifts and abilities.
If all of the above sounds too complex, just follow the advice of Ecclesiastes 11.10:
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.
Or as The Message puts it:
Whatever turns up, grab it and do it.
That’s focus. That’s getting specific for faithful people.