How to Accomplish More with Only One Thing
- Monday, January 17, 2011
We hear it all the time: "Focus on the 6 most important things for today" ... "List 3 things you most want to accomplish" ... "What are 10 things on your bucket list?" But is it possible to accomplish more with less? Have you ever tried the principle of the One Thing?
A New Approach to Life
This year I decided to try a new approach to life: no lengthy resolutions, no bucket lists, no alphabetical prioritizing. Instead, I want to focus on the principle of "One Thing." Can you really accomplish more with one thing? Can I honestly make a difference by focusing only on One Thing? I challenge you to find out with me.
2000+ Year-Old Idea
Actually, the idea is not new. It's been around for a couple of… thousand years. Two sisters first experienced this principle in their home while serving dinner to guests. At least one of them did.
One day Mary and Martha were entertaining Jesus and His disciples in their home. While Mary sat at the feet of Jesus listening to His teaching, Martha fumed in the kitchen while she prepared dinner - alone. Her emotions finally erupted, and she confronted Jesus with the unfairness of her situation: "Lord, doesn't it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me."
The One Thing Principle
But Jesus gently chided her and challenged her with the "one thing" principle, which Mary had apparently already discovered: "My dear Martha, you are so upset over all these details! There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it - and I won't take it away from her" (See Luke 10:38-42, NLT, emphasis mine).
Jesus doesn't explain the "one thing." He doesn't have to. We get His meaning. Hopefully, Martha did, too. Did Martha's work not matter? Of course it did. But Mary chose the best part. Her priority - her focus - was on Jesus Himself. Her joy and need in that relationship drove her to Jesus' feet. If Martha's focus had truly been on Jesus, would not the joy of serving Him with her gifts equal Mary's desire to hear His teaching and the way Mary chose to honor Jesus?
If anything drives us other than our relationship with Jesus, we're still probably in the process of learning. If anything matters to us more than Jesus, something needs rearranging. Personally, I'm so grateful for God's patience!
10 Ways to Accomplish More with Only One Thing
But that "one thing" has some practical application. Keeping our singular focus on Jesus this year, how can we "accomplish" more by using the one thing principle? Here are some questions and suggestions to get you started. Some are general, others more specialized:
- What is one thing I can do to make a difference this year? (There are probably many, but for now, focus only on one thing).
- What is one area in which I can work to improve this year? (There are many; choose one: health, relationships, spiritual growth, etc.)
- What is the one thing I most want to accomplish today? (At least you'll feel successful that you did one thing, not attempted ten and accomplished none)
- What is one way I can encourage someone today? (We can all think of at least one).
- What is one thing for which I can thank God most today? (Just one thing? That's hard).
- What is one way I can show God's love today? (Everyone needs His love!)
- What is one Scripture I can work on (this week, this month, this year)? (Focus on content and application, not mileage).
- What is one creative meal I can prepare this week (month)? (Did I have to mention that one)?
- What is one sentence that describes my idea (for writers, entrepreneurs, and other creative workers)?
- What is the one purpose for my blog (for bloggers and wannabes)?
Okay, ignore that I listed 10 possibilities. :-) Obviously, if you try to incorporate too many "one things" into your day, year, or life, you'll end up like Martha. And if you insist verbally to your boss that you can only do "one thing" today, you might receive a pink slip instead of kudos. Keep it in perspective.
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