I believe there are very few churches that have either gone under or failed to move forward because of incompetence, laziness or wickedness. Most pastors I’ve known are pretty hard working guys. Most congregations I’ve been a part of were generally filled good Christians who genuinely wanted to do the things God wanted to do. It wasn’t incompetence, laziness or sin that held the church back. Instead, it was a lack of focus.
One of the best ways to illustrate this is by thinking of light. If you have a light source that sprays light out in every direction it may produce a lot of light, but it’s not very powerful. However if you can get a light source that can super focus the light, you have a laser, which is very powerful. In the same way, if a church tries to go every direction at once, it may do a lot of things, but it will do them all poorly and it will have very little impact on the world around them. However if a church can focus on the few things they can do well, they will do fewer things, but they will have a greater impact on the world around them.
The way we keep from going in every direction so we can have a laser like focus, is by focusing on God’s Kingdom and God’s will. Jesus taught us to pray for God’s Kingdom to come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt 6:10). The way to have a laser like focus is to be sure that God is reigning in my life and that it is His will I am doing. God knows that there is no one church that can do everything. He also knows what things each church can do well and should be doing. So those are the things we should focus on doing.
To have a kingdom focus we must determine that it is God’s will we want to see done and not our own. Since Jesus reigns in my heart, I will focus my energies on doing His will and not my will. One of the things we always have to keep in mind is that the church doesn’t belong to you or your pastor. The church belongs to Jesus. Since the church belongs to Jesus, we must make sure that we are focusing on the things that He wants done and not the things that we want done. There may come times when what we desire for the church and what Jesus desires for the church may not be in sync. During these times, we show a kingdom focus by submitting to what Jesus wants done.Look with me at one of the best examples of this conflict.
“From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!’ But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.’” Matthew 16:21-23 (NKJV)
At this point Peter has made the declaration that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Then Jesus begins to tell them about what is going to happen to Him when they get to Jerusalem. As you can imagine this was pretty shocking news. For Jesus to be crucified and killed would also bring about some pretty significant changes in what was going on in the lives of the disciples.
You add all of these things together and you have a perfect opportunity for Peter to step up and speak, which is exactly what he did. Basically, Peter told Jesus that there was no way He was going to Jerusalem to be crucified. When Peter said this Jesus told him that his problem was that he was seeing things from a human perspective and not God’s. It is so important for us to recognize that these two perspectives are rarely the same. The human perspective focuses on what it’s going to cost me personally.
This will cost me my comfort.
This will cost me my traditions.
This will cost me my influence.
This will cost me my preferences.
This will cost ME…
The human perspective is always rooted in self. While God’s perspective focuses on what will be gained. In this instance what this would cost Peter was nothing compared to what would be gained. Personally, I believe this is true in most instances. What this will cost us personally is rarely significant compared to what will be gained for the Kingdom of God.
I am pretty convinced that any decision that is rooted in self will always be the wrong decision. One of the main reasons for this is that when my focus is on what it’s going to cost me, I am going to do whatever it necessary to prevent this from happening. If I am only seeing things from a human perspective and not from Gods, then I will try as hard as I can to keep those things I hold dear. As I seek to hold on to these things I will surely do things that are contrary to God’s will.
Once my desires for the church and Jesus desire for the church come into conflict I have a choice to make. I can seek to push my agenda or I can submit to Jesus. My pastor once said something to me once about the idea of submission that I thought was pretty profound. He said: It’s not submission until I don’t want to do it. If my desires are in line with Jesus desires it’s easy to keep a Kingdom focus. The real test comes when having a Kingdom focus will cost me personally. It is at this point that I submit to Jesus rule in my life by focusing on what the Kingdom of God will gain instead of what I will lose.