A big congrats to Holly at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, Janet at Christ First Baptist Church, and Dave at South Bay Church—the winners of our “How Do You Focus?” Contest! It seems you all found their thoughts and suggestions as inspirational and educational as we did. But why stop there? We received a variety of terrific ideas from you, our Orange Leader community, so we wanted to make sure you were able to read them all.
Here are excerpts from some of the other submissions because you can never have too many good suggestions on how to FOCUS. And if you have an addition, please feel free to add it to the comments section!
Tom of Country and Town Baptist Church
I found an app called 30/30 that allows me to break down all my tasks and give them each some focus time. I can choose how much time I want to dedicate to an item and then start the clock when the alarm sounds. I move on, or allow myself some additional time. This keeps me focused on one thing at a time, and I get rewarded by seeing how much I’ve completed.
Grant of Church at Rock Creek
Growing up in the Mississippi Delta of Arkansas during the 70s, life was simple. I played outside—a lot. Now that I’m in my 40s, life has gotten much more complex. So, for me, focus is all about recapturing the moments of childhood. When I need to focus, I head outside. I take a drive, or a ride, or a run. I build something (even if it’s the greatest sandwich known to man). I connect with those older than me for a new perspective on life. That is why the work I get to do with children, youth and parents is so fulfilling. I get a daily reminder of those things that matter, I’m surrounded by children who love to play, love to move, love to be noticed by those older than them, and I get to enjoy the childlike moments all over again.
Chris of Hebron Community Church
I find the best way to focus is to get enough rest and to mix up your environment. Being in the same place can bore you. Take your work or Bible to someplace new and see if that helps.
Cari of Grace Bible Church
We all have so many rolls in life. How can we even start to focus on doing our best at each role? I look at Martha in Luke 10:38-42 and see her saying the same thing to Jesus. “Look Jesus, I got the roles of friend, hostess, sister, baker, and house cleaner going on right now, HELP!” Jesus’ answer was probably exactly what she wanted to hear (hint of sarcasm right there). Jesus said, “Slow down and focus on me.” One way to focus on being your best is to not overload your plate. Learn to say “No.” It’s hard, but worth it. This year, to focus on being real in our relationships, we have eliminated some of our ministry activities. Were they bad? Not at all, but it became too much planning, too much cramming, and it produced chaos and not content. Also, focus on what Jesus was happy with—Martha’s sister, Mary, listening to Him. To stay focused in ministry, we have to be listening to Jesus. I know I can tell in my life when I am not “sitting down” with Jesus. The roles become exhausting, and stress, worry, and chaos set in. Spending time praying, reading God’s Word, being honest with my team and holding each other accountable in our walks are all things that help me stay focused on Jesus. Loving on my family, setting a free day from work and activities, and taking time to worship outside of work are key in staying focused in ministry.
Megan of West Salem Foursquare Church, Oregon
There are a few practices I keep in order to be a more effective, focused person—as well as a more joyful and loving person!
- Get Your Act Together: Keep a calendar, have a to-do list, and organize your files using a system that works for you.
- Slow Down: Being prepared is a good thing . . . except when it leads you to be so focused on the “next” that you forget about the “now.” When I slow down I have time to figure out needed balance and I have time to seek God for direction. Most of all, I have time to focus on what God has for me today.
- Remember the Why: Remembering the “why” helps me focus on what is really important—the moments of connection with people.
- Focus on Jesus: When Jesus is my main focus, everything else falls into place. I cannot focus on anything if I’m not focusing on Him.
Chip of First Church of God
How do I keep my focus in ministry? First, I realize I have spiritual astigmatism and need vision correction. Jesus has been healing vision for over 2,000 years. You must keep your eyes on Him. Checking focus must involve a spiritual eye test from time to time. I suggest, at least once a year, do an inventory of people who are an influence on you. Those people will either be pointing you to Jesus and correcting vision and thus focus, or they may be blurring your focus and making Jesus hard to see. I am currently checking my vision, and Orange has been a vision corrector as well as my brother and coworker. Spiritual astigmatism is correctable with seeing things through Christ. You don’t realize how blurred your focus is until you see through His eyes!
Vicki of Ada Bible Church
Like those of us who work in ministry, it is critical to focus, and yet, harder than ever before. So, what can you do to help stay on track and keep focused? I start every morning with a devotional and prayer. It puts everything in order to start my day and helps me let God lead.
- Organize. I use my calendar, a weekly schedule, a daily to-do list, and I label tasks in binders or folders on my desk. I also have an old-fashioned “in” box.
- Weekly Schedule. I have set meetings and timeframes for certain types of work to keep me on track and focused. I set my A, B, and C tasks each week.
- Say No. I only have so many hours in my week, so I need to have the ability to say no to something without feeling guilty.
- Use a calendar system. I have all my regular meetings on a calendar with a start and end time. I am very cautious how much of my week is spent in meetings!
- Email. Don’t feel like you have to answer email as soon as it pops up. I answer all emails in the morning when I come in and at the end of the day.
- Work Offsite. If it is budget time or monthly curriculum time, it may take working offsite to eliminate distractions.
- Close your door. If I had one, I would close it from time to time to allow for quiet. Otherwise, headphones and music can be your best friend.
- Learn from others. Take the time to connect with other ministry leaders. I also have ministry blogs for reference and I read leadership books from people in ministry.
- Make sure to focus at work so when you
are home with your family, you can truly focus on them. That is what I call a win-win situation!
Amy of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church
I am very thankful for my experiences growing up as a bassoonist in a band program. Learning about music performance taught me many, many important life skills. I have been able to apply several of the focus techniques of music performance into children’s ministry. The foundation of all performance skills in any discipline is learning how to focus for long periods of time. First and foremost, I have learned that in order to perform highly and stay focused in any discipline, you have to take care of your body. In ministry, we quickly forget to take care of ourselves, trying to take care of others first. To have long attention spans and be able to focus for a long time, you have to sleep well, eat well and exercise. Half marathons and triathlons? Bring it! In order to offer the world anything in God’s name, you have to treat yourself like you are worth something.
Kristin of Trinity Community Church
Recently my husband and I have been talking about how we get spun out of control on small details instead of focusing on the big picture, and one morning he woke up with a solution. Having lived in Oregon until recently, he has been watching the Oregon Ducks football team, and decided their team motto, “Win the Day” was one we need to embrace. “We need to Win the Day with our family too,” he explained, and this idea has taken root, and translated to how I lead in ministry as well. When I am faced with how I spend my time, or with a decision, I have to stop, slow down and ask myself, “Will this help us win the day?” If it won’t, no matter how great of an idea or a way to spend our time, I am learning to say “No.” I want to lead a ministry that wins the day, and day after day, so that one day, after many faithful days, we can hear “Well done.”
Tamara of DC Metro Church
How do I focus? The fact that I am a part-time ministry volunteer who works full-time automatically limits how much I can devote to children’s ministry. The mental battle I consistently go through on whether I am doing enough is one that gets fought often, but one I’ve now become thankful of when it happens, because only then do I grasp who really is the ultimate teacher. I have found no other way to be as effective in children’s ministry, than to be completely and utterly dependent on the Holy Spirit’s guidance. A strong and thriving relationship with God has a direct correlation on how much of an impact I can make as a teacher. My mind, will, and emotions have to be in line with the Word of God in order to impact future generations. How else are the children going to come to the realization that they need Him to be the center of their being if they don’t at least witness that in me? It motivates me to strive for excellence in my ministry; it gives me the determination that I am doing what He has called me to do, and there’s no better way to focus than on that.