If you’ve been thinking about doing something for a long time, now is the time to look at the actions you need to connect to your dreaming. You have more visions floating around in your head than you will ever accomplish. This is the time to focus all of the pieces and settle on the ONE direction you will go. You cannot do everything you want to do… but you can (within parameters) do anything you want to do if you focus on a singular objective. In accomplishing our mission we must first listen, then focus, and then GO!
Listen, Focus, and then GO!: Getting Forward Movement with Your Vision
“I have to kneel before the Father, put my ear against his chest and listen, without interruption, to the heartbeat of God….” — Henri Nouwen
I’ve spoken many times of the impact those words from the preface of Henri Nouwen’s book impacted me: “I have to kneel before the Father, put my ear against his chest and listen, without interruption, to the heartbeat of God….” When I first read them I went back over that single paragraph again and again as I felt the words settle into my spirit.
Listening to the heartbeat of the Father.
I knew this was my life mission.
The mission has been reiterated in my mind and spirit again and again for over 10 years. I was put on this earth to listen, to hear, to see what’s important to God, the things that he choses to say to me, to show me, and then I am to do something about it in simple obedience.
Yes, this has been a journey, but it has been a very consistent focus in my life. I can feel this mission grip the very depths of my soul. So simple and yet so profound.
It doesn’t sound like a mission statement, but as a guy who has spend nearly 20 years helping others discover, perfect, tweak, and implement their own mission statements, I can assure you, this is a quite valid mission statement. A mission statement, among other things, primarily identifies our “what?”. What are we called to do? Our mission.
I am to listen, I am to draw a laser focus with what I am hearing, and I am to move it forward.
On January 1, 2017 I took the broader statement of my mission and sought a concise statement that I could quickly say in my mind, or out loud, to remind myself of my mission. I fixed my attention on three words, actually three sentences: Listen. Focus. Go.
My mission is not only three things I must stay faithful to, it is also three very clear directives and I know exactly what each of them means.
My mission statement is simple, it is “Listen. Focus. Go.”
For us 2016 was the year of “LISTEN”. We wanted clarity of direction, which we did not always get, but we listened and trusted. We took a sabbatical and did a lot of focused listening. My listening has intensified over the past three years. I journal and capture as best I can what I believe God to be saying to me. Over 800,000 words in my journal over the past three years. I have listened and I’ve written what I’ve heard.
2017, for us, was the year of “FOCUS.” We talked endlessly about all of the things written in our journals. We talked about the things we were hearing and began to identify the things we were to focus upon. We sought clarity regarding the things in our lives we were to eliminate to better focus on the things that were to be our focus.
We’ve discarded truckloads of stuff. We’ve prepared ourselves for risk and obedience. We’ve focused on the directives, strategized and prepared. I am excited about the path God has for us. We’ve prepared the entirety of our lives and paid some hefty tolls to get where we are right now and we fully believe it is for a very specific purpose.
2018 is the year to “GO”. There are over 90 definitions for the word “go”. Such a small word used in so many different ways. The way in which we use the word is synonymous with the words “move”, “do something”, “start”, “execute”, “implement”, “action”, etc. I feel we have enough dreams and visions to last two lifetimes. We have to focus down on to the difference between what God is asking of us and what we dream about on our own. It is time to move forward the “heartbeat” of God we’ve heard and become so very familiar with.
God’s heartbeat is the standard by which we calibrate our lives.
[shareable]God’s heartbeat is the standard by which we calibrate our lives. [/shareable]
The following are some of the notes Donna and I used to record episode 50 of the Calibrate Life Podcast as we talked about our mission of “Listen. Focus. Go.”
Jeremiah 33.3 says, “Call out to me and I will show you awesome things you could have never figured out on your own…”
We want to live our life in the zone of “God-ideas”, not just “good ideas.”
In 2016 we spent 8 weeks on sabbatical with the intention of listening. We also hoped for clarity and direction, but the greater skill honed was that of listening. We positioned ourselves to listen in 2016.
We usually, if not always, think we are going to progress faster than we can or will. I wanted to listen for a few minutes or a few weeks and get an answer and move forward. The work God did in me was one of cultivating my “hearing” or listening skills.
Listening is a work of patience. In every arena of life, listening is important and takes patience.
Here are the disciplines that we identify as listening mechanisms. They all require a spiritual positioning. (“…listen, without interruption, to the heartbeat of God….”
- Prayer (expressions to God)
- Scripture (hearing the heart of God through scripture)
- Meditation (listening)
- Writing / Journaling (clarification and stewardship through writing)
- Prophetic Unction (A divine awareness of the heart of God)
- Discernment (A knowing in our spirit)
- Passions (the heartbeat of God practically revealed in us)
- Uncontaminated Trust (trusting God)
- Sincerity of Heart (trusting God in us)
Revelation is the divine result of listening. We see. We hear. We gain insight. We must consider revelation in three levels when it come to application.
… those things for which we await clarity of application (things we do not yet know what to do with)
… those things that are seeds not yet mature (things that need to grow before they are ready for action)
… those things we consider directives for immediate strategic movement (things we need to act upon)
When we listen we hear a lot, in increasing measure. There is much in every one of us — a lifetime of deposits. How do we steward those deposits?
Admittedly, I always have too many things floating around in my mind. I have a tendency to be a mile wide and an inch deep. I love to learn. I love to explore new things. I love to learn about something and once my curiosity is satisfied I move on to the next thing.
I have a list of things I’ve learned, but did not attain a level of proficiency. In other words, I know a little about a lot of things.
To accomplish something of significance we must have focus.
Years ago I had a Pentax 35mm SLR camera. This particular camera had a split focus ring. It was great for precision focus. If you lined up a vertical line or edge in the split focus ring, you not only gained focus by the clarity through the lens, but by aligning the split images.
Focus is about bringing things into a state of clarity and alignment. We trust God. We listen. We write. We meditate. But we are not simply looking for knowledge and information, we are looking for focus.
One definition of focus is the point at which rays of light meet after being reflected or refracted; a central point of attention, attraction, or activity.
- Focus directs a central point of attention…
- Focus directs a central point of attraction…
- Focus directs a central point of activity…
On a personal spiritual level, focus is directing the reflection of what I see and hear in the presence of God into reality.
The focal point (those things upon which we determine to focus) is a place of convergence. How do we know where to place our life and leadership focus? Here are the pieces that have to be clarified and aligned in the “split focus ring”:
- PROVIDENCE. What is God saying and obviously doing in our lives and surroundings?
- PASSIONS. What are the things emerging in your heart and the passions of those you love and lead?
- PATTERNS. Do you notice any patterns repeating in your life or organization that indicates either something to anchor in or something to change?
- PIECES. Lay out all of the pieces of the things you’ve been hearing, thinking, and observing. Is there a connection? Do the pieces fit? Sometimes they seem unrelated, but when examined as a whole you begin to see divine connection. If not, eliminate the distractions.
- PAST. What story does your historical redemptive journey tell? Can you see patterns and paths emerging from your history?
- PATH. Can you see an obvious direction unfolding before you? This relates to the providence of God, but it is sometimes revealed in very practical ways.
- PLATFORM. What platforms do you have? Platforms are opportunities. What opportunities present themselves? Pay particular attention to platforms sovereignly presenting themselves.
We cannot focus until we listen, but when a path emerges, we need to focus on the path and give as full ATTENTION, ATTRACTION, and ACTIVITY as is possible.
For us, 2018 is the year of “GO”.
Implementation. Starting. Execution. Doing. Going. Action.
I am not suggesting everyone must take two or three full years of listening and thinking before they execute. That is ridiculous! Fact is, I’ve been preparing for the actions I will take in 2018 for over 57 years. Every year should be a year of action and forward movement. I start every year of my life with an evaluation of the previous year and prayerful consideration of the things ahead.
We will continue to listen because that is our fuel.
We will continue to clarify and focus on the emerging path and priorities.
And we will take action upon the things which have become our focus.
For me, I love to plan and write, but the planning and the writing are simply precursors to action. We must have an action bias.
If you’ve been thinking about doing something for a long time, now is the time to look at the actions you need to connect to your dreaming.
If you are like me, you have more visions floating around in your head than you will ever accomplish. This is the time to focus all of the pieces and settle on the one direction you will go.
You cannot do everything you want to do… but you can (within parameters) do anything you want to do.
[shareable]You cannot do everything you want to do… but you can (within parameters) do anything you want to do. #focus[/shareable]
In other words, we cannot do it all, but we can accomplish the God-passions to which we give focused priority.
Listen. Focus. Go,
What are you hearing? What are you seeing? What passions are stirred within you? What are the passions arising in the hearts and lives of those you love and lead?
What are you going to focus upon? Decide. Make a list. Focus the pieces.
Where will you focus your ATTENTION? What will you let yourself be fully drawn toward or ATTRACTED to? To what will your ACTIVITIES be directed.
Calibration Tools… Calibrating Our Lives and Lifting Those We Love and Lead [22:44]
- What are your listening mechanism disciplines? Are you capturing the revelation?
- You have a lot of dreams and visions. You have many directions and interests. This year, now, which things are to be your focus? You may have to look at the pieces and patterns to determine how things fit together, but what must you focus upon and what must you eliminate?
- When you’ve determined your one unified focus (it may have facets, but it should be a unit), what actions will you implement to move forward in your focus?
You’ve been listening for a long time. It is time to start pulling the pieces of what you are hearing in your heart into a unified focus so you can get forward movement.
I’ve outlined so many dreams and directions. I’ve over analyzed with a sincere heart. For us, and maybe for us alone, this is going to be a year of focusing on implementation of the things already in our hearts. We have enough vision to last a lifetime, for us, for now, our focus turns to creating, doing, implementing … go!