The Focus of a Leader

Leaders have a tendency to make some poor trades. I have! Here are a few:

  1. We trade affirmation for accomplishment.
  2. Programs for results.
  3. Knowledge for action.
  4. The presence of God for the absence of problems.
  5. We trade focus for exploration.

Each of these is all-crucial, but let’s focus for a moment on the last one.

If the devil cannot defeat you, he will distract you. Let’s discuss the focus of a leader.

I had an illusionist friend who did amazing things before your eyes. He’d make bowling balls disappear, and in its place, a dove would emerge from a folded napkin. After several bedazzling performances, I asked him in private what his secret was. His answer was simple: I distract you. If I can get you to look where I want you to look, I can do many things with your mind!

I looked at him and said, “Why, you’re just like the devil!”

Light diffused can be beautiful, but lightfocused is called a laser. It can cut through rocks with great power, or it can perform a delicate operation on the cornea of an eye. Water may appear placid, but when concentrated, it can cut through steel.

A wise leader knows how to gain focus, when to use it, and how it is to be applied. One of the characteristics of David was his focus. When he wrote prose or verse, it was a gentle work of art. But when the battle loomed, he became one of the world’s elite in guerilla warfare.


Paul gives us a lesson in right focus. Look at this following passage:

No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this. 2 Tim. 2: 3-7

He gives us three metaphors that restore focus to a leader. And if neglected, these metaphors become into harbingers of harm.

Values, slippage and hunger loss is a natural drift that must be intentionally monitored. Like the canaries in the old mining shafts would detect the presence of methane gas, so too we must have some kind of canary within us that initiate pain in order for us to heed the alarm. We cannot lose focus and allow it to become “normal.” Otherwise we move imperceptibly, into a consolation bracket and we make our home in the midst of a diffused field of distracted people who were once great contenders.

A soldier stays focused:

A man of God can get distracted and fill his life with worldly things that would take up his time… inordinate consumption of entertainment, sports, or others time consumers leaving little or no time for God. Demas was like that. 2 Tim. 4:10 tells us: “Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me…” We begin to desert the original call on our life when our appetite is filled with the chaff of other things. Don’t get me wrong. We need recreation, but it is only a means to restore energy to what God has called us for, never to become a destination in itself.

An athlete competes by the rules:

A pastor can make ministry his “career path” and build it as his line of business, succeeding with principles of commerce, profit, and directing his efforts by supply and demand principles.

Being wise by increasing your business acumen is good, but here Paul is speaking of God building us through focus and concentration, not necessarily through opportunism and business acumen.

A leader knows when to concentrate all of his energies to the accomplishment of one task. He refuses to entertain anything else. He (or she) is determined and unflappable, undefeatable and invincible. That is a characteristic of great leaders.

On the other hand, they can be destructive, just as a laser would be in the hands of an untrained surgeon. A leader must know how to use focus for good and how to concentrate for benefit without it destroying those we are intending to help. Focus, poorly used, can turn a leader into a taskmaster, or a pastor into an angry husband. But focus, understood well and applied appropriately, will accomplish what nothing else could.

Here’s the reward:

A Hard Working Farmer is the first to receive the crop:

Hudson Taylor spent 51 years as a missionary to China in the middle and late 1800’s. He once said: “God’s work done in God’s way will always receive God’s supply!” How true. God will indeed provide abundantly, but the definitive phrase is a “hard working farmer.” This means a leader must put his hand to the plow and not look back. But nevertheless, God rewards His servants abundantly and there is no shortage on God’s blessings for the hard working farmer who plows and provides for more than himself.

A Leader’s Prayer:

Dear Lord, thank you for always depositing snippets of wisdom into my heart so I can chew on them during the day. Please give me insight on these things so I can grow wiser and increase my ability to lead Your precious people in New Hope and around the globe. Increase my focus and determination to be used by You. Teach me to be skilled in these ways.

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