The definition of a “focused life”

J. Robert Clinton

A focused life is a life dedicated to exclusively carrying out God’s unique purposes through it, by identifying the focal issues, that is, the life purpose, effective methodology, major role, or ultimate contribution which allows an increasing prioritization of life’s activities around the focal issues, and results in a satisfying life of being and doing.

J. Robert Clinton unpacks:

Dedicated usually indicates that there was some sort of second decision beyond just being a Christian. That decision places all that the leader is or has at God’s disposal to be used by and for God. From that moment on, the leader is on a pilgrimage to discover God’s special purposes, that is, a personal destiny with God. Sometimes this decision is called in some circles, a Lordship committal. Other groups may give it the title of a special call or special time of anointing for something. In any case it is recognition that all of life is about serving the Lord. Whatever is done in life, it must revolve around work for the Lord.

Life purpose, effective methodology, major role, and ultimate contribution are called the focal issues. That is, they are the major ways that God will reveal that for which we are designed. In a nutshell life purpose is the driving force behind what we do. Major role is the occupational position from which we accomplish that life purpose. Effective methodologies are means that are effective for us to deliver our ministry that flows from that life purpose. And ultimate contributions are the lasting results of that ministry.

It is the discovery of these focal issues, that is, their movement from implicit to explicit, which provides the possibility of prioritization or in other words, proactive decision making. The earlier we can discover these issues the earlier we can proactively act upon them. Many of the leaders in my case studies acted on implicit understandings of these focal issues for a good portion of their lives. However, many make breakthrough discoveries on one or more of these issues. Such breakthroughs, which allow an explicit understanding of something previously acted upon as implicit, seem to re-energize the leader toward a more effective ministry.  The leader then makes strategic decisions, which take into account the discoveries. In short, they manifest aspects of a focused life. It is just such a phenomenon that has led us to hope that we can expose the concepts and see many more leaders desire, enter in, and enjoy focused lives.

Note the final boldfaced words in the focused life definition, a satisfying life of being and doing. Leaders who discover life purpose and any other focal issue which synergizes with it will see things happen in their lives. They will become. They will accomplish. When all is said and done and life is drawing to a close they can look back and say, “Folks, you are looking at a fulfilled person. I am happy with the end product of God’s shaping—who I am, what I have become. I am happy at what God has done through me—what I have done. Life was worth living. It has been a fulfilling pilgrimage. Praise God!”

From Strategic Concepts that Clarify a Focused Life by J. Robert Clinton


J. Robert Clinton’s work informs the content of the Rockbridge Seminary’s Touchstone (“Developing the Focused Life”) and Capstone (“Practicing the Focused Life”) courses. Both courses are required for all Rockbridge Seminary programs: Master of Divinity (MDiv), Master of Ministry Leadership (MML), and Diploma in Ministry Studies (DMS) AND are fully online (100%).

2012 Course Schedule for the Touchstone and Capstone courses

  • 2012 Term 1: Jan 3-Feb 27 (Touchstone and Capstone)
  • 2012 Term 2: Feb 28-Apr 23 (Touchstone and Capstone)
  • 2012 Term 3: May 1-Jun 25 (Touchstone)
  • 2012 Term 4: Jun 26-Aug 20 (Touchstone)
  • 2012 Term 5: Aug 28-Oct 22 (Touchstone and Capstone)
  • 2012 Term 6: Oct 23-Dec 17 (Touchstone and Capstone)

Read more about J. Robert Clinton

The J. Robert Clinton Institute (resource store for most Clinton materials)

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