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Jesus’s Remarkable Focus

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I think we all feel the need for more focus and intentionality throughout our lives. In our careers in particular, we feel overcommitted, overwhelmed, and overstressed, spending too much time focused on minutiae rather than the work we believe God created us to do.

But here’s the truth: It’s not enough to know what you feel called to focus on professionally. In order to do our most exceptional work for the glory of God and the good of others, we must also get in the habit of saying “no” to the many things that attempt to distract us from our essential mission.

I don’t think anybody understood this better than Jesus who displayed a remarkable awareness of the natural limits time and attention place on our ability to fulfill our life’s calling, or what Jesus referred to as the work the Father gave Him to do (see ).

In , we are told,

“As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem” (NIV) (emphasis mine).

The picture here isn’t of Jesus scattering himself across a myriad of nonessential work. Jesus was laser-focused on a singular vocational mission: preaching the good news of redemption in word and ultimate deed.

Along the way to fulfilling that mission, Jesus stopped by the home of Mary and Martha in what has become a legendary biblical account. As Luke shared:

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 few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” ( , NIV)

Jesus had the mind-set of an essentialist on his way to fulfilling the one thing the Father called him to do, and here he is teaching Mary and Martha to do the same. In that moment the one essential thing was not cooking another dish or cleaning up the house—it was sitting at the feet of Jesus. Commenting on this passage, Pastor Timothy Keller hit the nail on the head: “[Mary] decided what was important, and she did not let the day-to-day get her away from that. As a result, she was drawn into a greatness we don’t even dream of. Because we are more like Martha than Mary, we’re sinking in a sea of mediocrity.”

The world is constantly pressuring us to be more like Martha than Mary, convincing us that the path to happiness and impact is the path of more—more jobs, more commitments, more money, etc. But here, Jesus offers us a better, simpler, saner way. He offers us the path of less but better.

In a world full of Marthas, let us allow Jesus’s words to permeate every aspect of our lives, especially our work. Instead of scattering our gifts and energy in a million directions, let us seek the one vocational thing we believe the Father has given us to do and then master that work for his glory and the good of others.

Adapted from Master of One: Find and Focus on the Work You Were Created to Do, Copyright © 2020 Jordan Raynor, used by permission.

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About The Author


Jordan Raynor, author of Master of One: Find and Focus on the Work You Were Created to Do and the national bestseller Called to Create, leads a growing community of Christians seeking to more deeply connect their faith with their work. In addition to his writing, Jordan serves as the executive chairman of the tech startup Threshold 360, where he previously served as CEO after launching a string of successful ventures. A highly sought-after speaker on the topic of faith and work, Raynor has spoken at Harvard University, SXSW, Q Ideas and many other events around the world. He has twice been

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