In leadership, one of the hardest tasks—you may even say the essential task—is keeping everyone focused on one shared goal. Maybe you’ve heard the analogy about leadership as trying to keep everyone rowing in the same direction. The leader will never be able to say, “My work is finished,” because there will always be unique challenges to the focus of the team.
In my spare time, I coach a twelve-year-old baseball team, the Oldham Knights. Earlier this Fall, we celebrated being ranked fifth in the state. We were feeling great about our progress as a team. The following week we lost four of the next six games. What happened? We lost our focus.
But here’s the thing: staying focused on the main thing isn’t just a problem leaders face. It’s also a problem for each one of us in our individual lives. The leader is trying to do something with a group that each individual within that group struggles to do on his or her own. If staying focused is hard for individuals, you better believe it’s hard for a group of individuals.
Every single day, we wake up to the challenge of innumerable things fighting for our limited attention. Some of those things will lead us to thrive toward our goals; some of those things intend to derail us. We wake up to the dinging of a smartphone’s alarm clock. From the first moments of our day, that same tool begs us to give it more of our attention by resorting to vibrations, bells, flashing lights, red notification dots, and colorful buttons.
Our phones shout nonstop, “Give your attention to me! Look at me!” It never ends. While our phones increasingly improve in their ability to steal our gaze, space limits do not allow me to consider all the other factors vying for our attention.
We wake up determined to get all the important things done, but how often do we look back on our day with satisfaction? How often do we shove the tasks that we would label ‘indispensable’ to the side in the name of the trivial?
Is there a unifying center for our lives? Is there one large focus that we can place over everything we do that has the power to unify all the other components that make up our cluttered lives? If we had a leader for life, on what would he want us to focus our lives?
It just so happens that we do have such a leader, and he has told us what our focus needs to be. God has told us clearly, from the very beginning of his self-revelation, that our life focus needs to be worship. He created us for worship. After we sinned, Christ came to save us for worship. In eternity, once the mission of the church has been fulfilled, we will still be worshiping. It makes sense, then, that our lives now should be consumed with worship.
But right here, I realize that we don’t think about worship as the focus of our lives because, too often, we have a shrunken view of what worship is. For many, worship is escape. We dim the lights, close our eyes, and try to forget about other people so that we can encounter the divine. We long to be raised up out of our creaturehood so that we can experience God.
But that’s not worship, biblically defined. Worship, according to God, is earthy. It involves wood and strings, bread and wine, and always other people. When God created us in his own image, he told us to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). We bring glory to his name when we go about our lives, fulfilling this calling purposefully in obedience to him. Worship takes place in the trenches of ordinary life.
The church gathering on Sunday morning is supposed to be the culmination of a week of devoted worship. God wants worship that involves not just congregations, but also vocations, recreations, and vacations. Consider how Paul says it, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1).
How do we unify our lives under one purpose? Worship God. When you take your trash out, do it for God. When you take your son to his Little League game, dedicate it to God. When you lay down to nap on Sunday afternoon, dedicate your rest to God. Intimacy with spouse belongs to God just as much as prayer in the closet. Hang the banner of worship over everything you do and rejoice in the transformation that will follow.