The rich young ruler wanted to achieve something special. Jesus said there was One Thing stopping him from achieving it. The man needed to sell out to everything and simplify by focusing on ONE THING. If he would, he could achieve his life’s goal. The Bible says he did not do it and went away sad. ONE THING can stop you from having a great life a success.
by Delbert Young
Scriptures: Philippians 3:13-14, Mark 10:21, Luke 10:38-42
Today is what I call “Vision Sunday.” For years, I have projected things I feel we need to accomplish during the year. I will do this some today, but this year I want to approach this differently. Plus, I think I can help you with your personal vision.
We want to provide for you a GREAT church. I have asked some of the leadership to read a bestseller book titled Good To Great by Jim Collins. It is not what you may call a “spiritual” book. It is actually about why most companies remain “good,” while a few companies become “great.” In the book, Collins uses the truth from an essay by Isaiah Berlin called “The Hedgehog and the Fox.” Berlin divides people into two groups – Hedgehogs and Foxes. A fox is a sleek, complicated, high-strung, easily distracted creature running all over the woods trying to figure out what it will do and where it will go. One thing the fox tries to figure out is how it can eat the hedgehog. The hedgehog, on the other hand, is a very simple little creature looking like a mix between a porcupine and small armadillo. The hedgehog simplifies life and reduces it down to only what is relevant. When attacked by the fox, it simply rolls up into a ball of sharp spikes and never loses to the fox. Collins quoting Berlin says, “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” The point Collins makes in Good To Great is this: knowing the right ONE BIG THING is better than knowing many things. Companies going from good to great actually simplified life and rolled it all up into ONE THING. For example, Circuit City focused on ONE THING – being the best at selection. Gillette focused on ONE THING – being the best at razor blades. Walgreens focused on ONE THING –being the best convenient drug store. This ONE THING not only protected them, but also took them from Good To Great. Is this a biblical principle? Let’s see.
Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this ONE THING I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press on toward the GOAL to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
The apostle Paul said he may not have it all figured out. He had not apprehended, gotten hold of and learned it all yet, but there is ONE THING he did grasp and know. This ONE THING is he could not allow the past to control his future. Paul simplified (hedgehog), was brutally honest, and knew the ONE THING he had to do to get to where he wanted to go. Neither can you allow your past to control your future, but beyond this… IF YOU HAD TO SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE AND “HEDGEHOG” IT, WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU NEED TO DO TO GET WHERE YOU WANT TO GO IN LIFE TO WIN? We posed this question to each other in our elders meeting concerning Life Gate. I will tell you our conclusion shortly. Let’s look at another ONE THING.
One day a wealthy young man ran up to Jesus and asked, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus quoted him several commandments. The man said he had done all this since he was a boy. Then…
Mark 10:21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “ONE THING you lack,” he said. “Go, SELL EVERYTHING you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
This man wanted to achieve something special. Jesus said there was ONE THING stopping him from achieving it. The man needed to sell everything – sell out to everything – and simplify (“hedgehog it”) by focusing on ONE THING. If he would, he could achieve his life’s goal. The Bible says he did not do it and went away sad. ONE THING can stop you from having a great life. Let’s look at another ONE THING.
Luke 10:38-42 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only ONE THING is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
(NLT) Luke 10:42 There is really only ONE THING WORTH BEING CONCERNED ABOUT. Mary has DISCOVERED IT – and I won’t take it away from her.”
Martha, like the fox, was distracted, worried, and upset about many things and missing the ONE THING needed. You may be like this. So much happens in our lives as we prepare for this and prepare for that. We miss the ONE THING needed – the ONE THING worth being concerned about – it can make our lives great.
Life Gate has been this way. We have been like the fox trying to do this and that. Last year, we cut back from doing so many unproductive things and concentrated our time and resources on, what we believed, was truly productive. This year, we want to apprehend, as did Paul, sell out to it, as Jesus told the young man, and identify, as did Mary, the ONE THING worth being concerned about.
You too need to do this for your life. Until you do, you will allow the past to control your future, allow the acquisition of things to stop what you truly want in life, and allow many things to worry and upset you. You will run around in the woods like the fox, surviving, but never having a great life.
I want to attempt to take you through the process we are currently working through here at Life Gate. We are seeking the ONE THING to apprehend, sell out to, and be concerned about. Collins, in his bookGood To Great, does not leave us with simply the “Hedgehog” concept. He shows what companies did to make the transition from good to great. We want to do this here. We not only want a good church. We want a great church. Collins uses what he calls “Three Circles.” I want you to see this for your life. As you will see, this is a great principle. Here are the thoughts of the “Three Circles.”
“1. What you can be the best in the world at (and equally important, what you cannot be the best in the world at)…
What drives your economic engine…?
What you are deeply passionate about…”
To help us grasp what is meant here, I will say in my own words what Collins said in his words in his book. Suppose you could design a perfect life in which you felt as if God had genetically coded you to do something. You (#1) had the potential to be the best in the world at doing this ONE THING. You felt born to do this. Plus (#2), you are well paid for doing this ONE THING which you are extremely good at doing. It amazes you people actually pay you to do it because it is so easy and fulfilling to you. Third, you have a deep passion to do this ONE THING. You actually look forward to getting out of bed every day and diving into doing it and you deeply believe in what you are doing. If you could overlap those three things, as done in the 3 circles, and drive your life – make your life choices – toward the intersection of the overlap intersection then you would have a great life.
Jesus lived this life, did he not? He was the BEST IN THE WORLD at teaching and preaching the kingdom of God. He came into the world to do it (Mar 1:38). It was as if God genetically coded him to do it. He was so good at it people supported his ministry and paid him to do it. It was his economic engine. He was deeply passionate about it (Luk 4:43). He could hardly wait until he could get to the next town, or find the next person so he could do it again. Was Jesus great? Of course he was. So, if you will steer your life at the intersection of your 3 circles and make your life’s decisions according to this intersection, you will have the great life – abundant life – you want.
So, I have to now ask you those three questions: (1) WHAT IS IT YOU FEEL YOU ARE SO GOOD AT DOING YOU COULD BE THE BEST IN YOUR WORLD? (2) WHAT MAKES YOU A LIVING? (Are those two things already miles apart, or do they hopefully intersect?) (3) ABOUT WHAT ARE YOU DEEPLY PASSIONATE, FULFILLED, AND IN IT YOU DEEPLY BELIEVE? Probably, #1 and #3 intersect, but does #2? Do you know why? We have become a society of “foxes” running all over the woods. We refuse to be like Paul, be brutally honest, and admit the past controls our future. We are a society like the young man who came to Jesus and will not sell out to the ONE THING capable of giving us the great/abundant life. Like him, we go away sad. We are a society like Martha worried and upset about many things, but will not simplify life to the big ONE THING.
To have a great and fulfilled life, the intersection of the 3 circles must meet. Sometimes you must be brutally honest with your own self. For example, a person might feel genetically coded to be the best in the world at ONE THING. However, he or she cannot make a living doing it. If so, there is no economic engine to support your life and family. Can you change this with more education or training, etc.? A person might make a lot of money doing something, but does not feel fulfilled or happy, and hates going to work. This is not a great life. A person might have great passion about, deeply believe in, but not be the best at doing the ONE THING. They MIGHT have a lot of fun, but will live frustrated all their life. A great life requires all three circles coming into intersection.
In 1985, I came to a place in my life where I brought my circles together to intersect. I was working for Dundee Mills and making very good money. However, I hated the job and, though I was very “good” at it, I was not “genetically coded” to do it. I certainly did not have a passion for it. Like Paul, I apprehended something and began to reach for it. I sold out and left the “secure” position. I brought my family to this city unknowingly bringing my circles together to intersect. I have a deep passion for what I do. I believe in it with all my heart. I feel genetically coded to do it. It is my “economic engine.” When I stand back and look at it, I am one happy, blessed, and fulfilled man with a great life. I had to apprehend my future, sell out to what I had, and find the ONE THING about which I must be concerned. I did it. How about you?
We sat down and asked those brutal questions: (1) What do we believe Life Gate is/has the potential to be the best in “our” world doing? (2) What drives the economic engine at Life Gate Church? (i.e. Why do people attend here?); and (3) What is the passion here at Life Gate? To have a great church, we must drive Life Gate toward intersection and make decisions concerning it in this light. What did we find in the intersection of those three questions? How many want to know?
We believe the teaching of the Word of God is the ONE THING we do best in our world/region. If there is ONE THING we unanimously believe we have the ability to be the best at doing, it is teaching the Word of God. I feel “genetically coded” to teach the Word of God. We are passionate and believe in it. We are not passionate about the lost, or missions, etc., but we will argue and debate all day about the Word. It is difficult to move us, change us, or deceive us when it comes to the Word of God. We are confident and knowledgeable. Teaching the Word of God is our economic engine here at Life Gate. This is the main reason most of you come and give support. One elder said, “People may have come for the music or other things, but it is the teaching of the Word that kept them here.” You may or may not agree, but this is what we believe.
We believe the big ONE THING we must apprehend, sell out to, and view as the main thing to be concerned about is the teaching of the Word of God. What we want to do this year is enhance this, (for lack of a better term at this time) market this to our region, use it, somehow make people aware of it – i.e. drive our church toward the intersection this year as never before. We will work on the presentation of the Word of God. We are discussing more ways to get it out, i.e. more radio, television commercials, newspaper, etc. We are discussing the possibility of having a “seminar” developed from the personal interest and need of this area. There will be some things we will do improving the overall ministry of Life Gate Church, but it will all be with the intention of driving Life Gate toward the intersection.
Concerning your life’s vision, it is probably very necessary you sit down in brutal honesty, draw three circles, and find your intersection. Ask, is this where I want to go? Is this what I want to spend the rest of my life doing? If not, you will need to stop allowing the past to control your future. You will need to sell out to the things holding you where you are today. You will need to find the big ONE THING worth being concerned about.
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