Vision Essentials 12

The 'One Thing' Principle

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The Problem of Clutter

Many years ago I started working with Daniel and Debbie, a couple who had been in the congregation for a while and who had made good progress. Although they seemed eager to advance further in ministry it appeared that they’d hit a ceiling. One day I visited their home. It was the most cluttered and chaotic home I had ever been in. Everything was everywhere. Every space was covered and taken up with something. They eventually cleared away some things so I could sit. I began to understand why they were having problems advancing in ministry. The chaos in the home was a manifestation of: firstly, the disorder in their inner world; and secondly, the host of service activities they were giving themselves to. Because of this Daniel and Debbie could not see which area of service they were productive in. Their investment of time and energy were too widespread – really they were all over the place.

Their home, in my opinion, was not fit to bring people into. They really needed to get rid of the clutter in order to make it fit for purpose – a place to live and, more importantly, a place where people coming in could feel comfortable and at home.

Sometimes our congregation can be a place where too many ideas, projects and activities are competing for the attention, resources, and energy of leaders and members alike. In these circumstances we have what I call ‘ministry clutter’ and the usual result is a loss of clear focus and purpose.

Finding Focus

Focus is a truth that we discover in the Scriptures and it frequently comes over to us in the principle of ‘one thing.’

  • David in Psalm 27:4 says, “One thing I ask from [Yahweh], this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of [Yahweh] all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of [Yahweh] and to seek him in His temple” (NIV).

David spent his life pursuing that ‘one thing’ and everything he accomplished came out of that pursuit. And boy he achieved a lot over his life!

  • The Apostle Paul in Philippians 3:13-14 says, “But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which [Yahweh] has called me heavenwards in [Messiah Yahshua]” (NIV).

Paul was so bent on the goal of becoming like Yahshua that everything else was worth nothing to him compared to the ‘one thing.’

Both these men were committed to, and determined to pursue, ‘one thing.’ They put aside other things vying for their attention, and ignored things that could easily distract from the ‘one thing.’

Leaders must ask themselves the following questions:

  • Have we filled our programme with too many things in an attempt to provide effective ministry?
  • Is our congregation cluttered with too many competing activities?
  • Is everything we’re doing vitally connected to the purpose of why we’re here?
  • Is there ‘one thing’ that stands out above all others that connects with our purpose and warrants an investment of our time and energies?
  • What could happen if we focussed our time, energies and resources on ‘one thing’? How would that affect our growth and morale?

I urge leaders and teams to seriously consider and discuss these questions looking to the Holy Spirit to reveal the ‘one thing.’

Put In The Work

Everyone who wants to achieve something of worth must put some work in.  In fact, nothing of any value ever gets done without some hard work! If we want our local congregation to be successful, healthy and thriving; a community of believers who together are being used by the Holy Spirit to bring change to individuals, families and whole neighbourhoods . . . then we have to put some effort in, and that has to be around the ‘one thing.’ Not just the pastors or leaders, not just those on the evangelism team, but EVERYONE! 

A Call To Action 

As leaders of congregations you are partnering with Yahweh and the Holy Spirit to reach out to lost people and build up the congregation, so they become mature disciples. You need a clear picture of how to do that and to stay focussed on that ‘one thing.’

This might call for drastic action – to de-clutter the congregation of excessive activity and projects. When our troops are too thinly spread doing all manner of things, not much gets done that lasts or that we can be proud of. Be courageous, search for that ‘one thing’, declare it and pursue it, turning aside from other legitimate things that will distract.


 Quote titlePoverty of purpose is worse than the poverty of purse
 ANON

I go at what I have to do as if there were nothing else in the world for me to do
CHARLES KINGSLEY


HEBREWS 12:1-2 (NIV)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on [Yahshua], the pioneer and perfecter of (our1) faith. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of [Elohim].

1 The author's addition


Prayer title

Heavenly Father, as a congregation we're desperate to see real transformation take place in the lives of those we serve. However, we can tend to want to meet the needs of all and so provide various services to do that. Father, help us to resist that temptation and search for what you desire us to focus on, the 'one thing' we should pursue. In finding the 'one thing' enable us to commit to it; to put in the effort, investing our time and resources to achieve it. In doing so we realise that many things we desire will also be realised.

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