fo-cus (fo-kus) noun, [Latin, hearth] 1. A focal point. 2. To concentrate. 3. A center of interest or activity. 4. To sharpen or clearly define. 5. The point at which an object is most clearly seen.
To the casual observer it might appear that Jesus was nomadic, wandering the dusty roads from village to village, dispensing his humanitarian miracles and pithy sayings. A first century Johnny Appleseed who scattered goodness seeds and golden rules like confetti. A kind of half-Houdini, half-Gandhi. A utilitarian genie who attracted disciples like stray cats.
But nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus was the most focused leader and strategic planner of all time. He was a genius in organizational development and human resources. He specialized in visionary management. The world has never known a better synergist, the church being exhibit A. His methods, though ministerial, have been the model for industry and commerce for hundreds of years.
His focus was constantly challenged, but he never wavered. He was harassed by the religious: "The Pharisees came out and began to argue with Him." His disciples volunteered new ideas: "...Command fire to come down from heaven to consume them." Even His family questioned his actions: "Why have you treated us this way?" His hometown friends, the ones who had watched Him grow up, "took offense at Him." Satan, too, took his best shot. "All the kingdoms of the world, and their glory, will I give you if you fall down and worship me." But Jesus was resolute with focus.
Though simple, Jesus' ministerial focus was profound and permanent. It has served as the template for every true disciple since.
First, Jesus focused His mission in doing God's will. Nothing was more important to Him. "My priority is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to accomplish His work." John Stott, in The Preacher's Portrait wrote, "I can't help wondering if this is why there are so few preachers God is using today. There are plenty of popular preachers but not many who preach in the power of the Holy Spirit." Stott wonders if preaching God's will is too costly for the preacher. It was costly for Jesus, too. But He remained focused.
Second, Jesus focused His topics of conversations. Every dialogue was deliberate. No words were wasted or lost; they were customized for each audience. "The words which you gave to me, I have given to them." His material was fresh and applicable. To the hurting, He spoke of hope. At a funeral, He spoke of life. To the blind, he spoke of light. To the leper, He offered His touch. To the theologians, He spoke theology. To normal people, He sounded normal. For everyone he put the cookies on the bottom shelf. And they loved Him for it.
Third, Jesus focused His message to a target audience. "I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." He gravitated to the needy and the growing. He did not seek out the comfortable or stagnant. His ministry was one of depth, not breadth. He would hideaway with His students for in-depth training. He commanded others to "tell no one." He was unshaken when thousands walked out during His message claiming "this is too difficult." On the night before the crucifixion, Jesus had an audience with numerous Jewish and Roman power brokers "yet He opened not His mouth."
Finally, Jesus focused His energies toward His replacements. "As you have sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world." He chose an even-dozen from hundreds of candidates. For three years they stopped, looked, and listened. They heard it all, saw it all, and were involved in dozens of miraculous works. Jesus held nothing back from them. He schooled them in every phase of ministry. They saw him laugh, weep, teach, pray, challenge, rest, serve, heal, answer, and lead. When it was their turn they never asked "How?" They were focused.
Our work is demanding but the model of our Teacher is simple: Focus.
Vice President of Church Relations
P.S. If you're looking for great preaching tools, don't forget Preaching Magazine. It's my favorite. Check it out at Preaching.com. Do your congregation a favor by subscribing.
Copyright 2007 by Ron Walters
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