A Sharper Focus for the New Year

Paul Clark

Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.
(Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

Looking back over the past year, some great things happened to you and me in our ministries, at work and in our families. At the same time, let’s be honest, there were certain experiences that we could have easily done without. I am always amazed how extremely mixed our life experiences can be during a one-year period.

However, let us never forget that God’s plan for you and me is much greater than life circumstances that often come crashing down all around us like mighty raging waves!

Once in a sermon, I heard Reinhold Ulonska say, “Difficult experiences are the steps leading into God’s school of spiritual depth. The steps in God’s school of spiritual depth in our life experiences prepare us for a closer walk with God.” Recently someone wrote to me in an email: “Life can be a great battle at times, which causes us to trust God in a greater way.”

Several months ago I was struck by what Pastor Brian Moss wrote in his blog concerning Charles Duhigg Book entitled, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.

“Duhigg studies the science of behavior, focusing particularly on habits. In essence, our entire lives can be summed up by our habits, those things we do incessantly, day in and day out. From brushing our teeth, to the places we shop to the way we eat, sleep, work and play, our habits define us. Good habits, done over a long period of time, have incredible results. Bad habits, even little ones, done over a long period of time can destroy us.

The key to changing your life is to change your habits, but this is easier said than done. In the Duhigg’s book, researchers studied people who underwent radical and enduring lifestyle changes and found that the secret nearly always boiled down to what is known as a single keystone habit.

A keystone is a single habit which, when implemented, has a ripple effect on a dozen other areas of life. In other words, we change the MOST when we focus on changing the LEAST. The key is changing that ONE habit that will then ripple out to so many other areas of your life.”

This got me to thinking that maybe instead of setting multiple goals in 2016 that you and I should take the time to find that ONE goal that when accomplished will have the greatest impact on our lives and the lives of others.

There is a saying, if you chase two rabbits at a time, both will get away. Focus and simplicity were the life message of Steve Jobs: “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end, because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

What is the ONE thing that is a priority for you and me in 2016? I admit, this is not a simple task to undertake and determine, yet the apostle James is so encouraging, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5 NIV)

I believe God will lead you and me to this ONE Priority (keystone habit) that will have positive implications for our lives and the lives of others whether at work or in ministry. We may not discover this ONE priority right away, but it is well worth taking the time to seek God in this important matter.

I love David’s prayer, “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” (Psalm 25:5 NIV)

Time is not our enemy. It is our friend. Persistent waiting upon the Lord is highly valued in the scriptures and will be rewarded. It is very encouraging to know that as God directs us, that what we focus on will grow and bear even more fruit.

May God grant you a sharper focus in all that you do in the New Year!

Paul, and his wife Mechthild, live in Lindau, Germany and have planted churches in Rhineland Palatinate, Saarland and Thuringia. Paul is actively involved in teaching ministry as well as assisting and coaching other churches being planted in German speaking Europe. Paul initiated and administers the website Forum für Leiterschaft im Gemeindebau which provides resources and inspiration for German speaking pastors and church leaders.

Paul is author of the book: “German Pentecostal Church Planting 1945–2005: Implications for Intentional Mission in the 21st Century”. Paul’s personal missions’ statement: “I intentionally encourage those who encourage others.”