A number of years ago Stephen Covey wrote a bestselling book called, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” Among the seven things mentioned by Covey was that highly successful people was “The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.” Covey stressed the point that this was a powerful concept to be used in all aspects of life. For example, in the home and family we need to keep the main thing the main thing. In business it ought to be obvious that we must keep the main thing the main thing. It is also true in the church that we must keep the main thing the main thing. It may be the most common mistake that we make in all areas when we try to do so many good things we no longer have time to do the things that are most important.
As a parent the main thing is to train up a child in the way they should go, to bring them up in the training and discipline of the Lord. If we do a great job of buying the child all their needs and wants but don’t accomplish the training and discipline of the Lord in a child’s life we have traded the main thing for something far down the line and we have let the child down for life. In business it is common for successful businesses to try to spread into areas where they have no knowledge or expertise and to watch their business fall apart as a result.
In churches we forget that our primary job is to teach people about God, Christ and the Holy Spirit showing them to way to God by our own example and by the things we teach. We may do a thousand good things and fail to do the one most important thing thus failing in the main thing. Churches are easy to move in the wrong direction because they are made up of people who want to do good. Point them to any wrong and they will want to fight it for the Lord. Point to any good work and they will want to do the job because Jesus went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil. But we often forget that Jesus also was good at saying no to many things so he could focus on the main thing. In Mark 1:35-37 Jesus had healed all kinds of people with all kinds of diseases. They wanted him to come back to town and heal more the next day. Jesus said he couldn’t do that because he had to go on to the next towns to preach the gospel because that was what he was called to do. Healing was good and Jesus was good at it. But it wouldn’t have been right to leave the main thing that God had given him to do, to do something that was good.
It’s good for churches and Christians to do good, to be good Samaritans and to be great examples of people doing good. But we can’t lose sight of our main job while trying to do all the good things possible. Too many churches have become social clubs and social agencies in the pursuit of doing good things while losing out on the primary mission God has given the church and which no one else in the world can do. There are multiple organizations that do good. But none have the mission or purpose God has given his church. Will the greatest work fail to be done because the church has become so busy doing things that any organization on earth could accomplish.
Think about what the main thing is in your life as a Christian or your business, or your family. But think also what the main thing is for the church as a body to do in God’s service. Don’t let the less important take the place of the more important.