-The Eternally Focused Leader by Rick Warren-

God has called us to lead in a world that’s often preoccupied with immediate gratification and short-term goals. Every problem has an immediate solution, and every bit of pain needs to be removed right now.

But God looks for something different in Christian leaders. He is looking for far-sighted, eternally focused-leadership. That’s leadership that always keeps eternity in mind. It isn’t easy. Often, we have immediate issues that we must focus on. But when we don’t keep eternity in mind, it’s easy to get sidetracked by the frustrations and stresses of life.

The Bible teaches us what’s most important won’t come and go tomorrow. It lasts forever. That’s why we must focus on eternal matters. Paul tells us this in Colossians 3:2, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (NIV). 

Living in light of eternity changes your priorities. Jesus modeled this for us perfectly. Just read his first and last words. Jesus’ first recorded words were, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49 NKJV). His last words were: “It is finished” (John 19:30 NKJV). Jesus had finished his father’s business. Those were the perfect bookends of a purpose-driven life. Jesus’ priority was his father’s business, on the eternal work of God in the world.

That’s why he could endure the horrible pain of the cross. The writer of Hebrews says of Jesus,  “for the joy set before him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:1 NLT). Jesus looked beyond the cross to a greater purpose—one that impacted all of eternity.

Compare Jesus’ life to the priorities of many Christians today.  We won’t remember the latest smartphone, the hottest movie, or the nicest clothes a decade from now, much less into eternity. I’ve seen many Christian leaders waste much of their lives because they’re preoccupied with the present.

I don’t have to tell you that many days in ministry are tough. You’re facing criticism, church conflict, family pressures, and an intense workload. Plus, there’s the physical and emotional exhaustion that often comes with ministry. I understand that stress. I’ve often written about how often I wanted to quit on Monday mornings after a long weekend.

When you’re preoccupied with the present, you’ll quit when those tough days come. It all comes down to motivation. What keeps you going when everything inside you wants to quit? For some, it’s an internal motivation. They are motivated by a deep desire to succeed and not to appear to quit. For others, it’s about external motivation. They long for the recognition and approval that comes with the refusal to quit.

But neither of those is good enough to keep you going during the tough times. Just ask Paul. In 2 Corinthians, Paul tells us about the massive struggles he faced while serving Jesus. He was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, stranded, and shepherded broken churches as he shared Christ throughout the known world.

But earlier in the letter, he tells us exactly how he kept going. “We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV). Paul had the right motivation—an eternal one.

How do you keep that kind of eternal motivation going? You focus on things that will never go away.

  • You read God’s Word. (Matthew 24:35) Jesus tells us that his words will never pass away. Every moment you spend in the Bible is an investment in eternity.
  • You pray. (Revelation 5:8) Your prayers matter for eternity. God is answering prayers today that were prayed a century ago. Some of your prayers might not see results until another century has gone by. Your prayers aren’t limited by time.
  • Tell people about Jesus. (Matthew 28:18-20) You have the opportunity to impact the eternal destiny of other people. That’s more important than anything else you’ll do in this life.

That’s what it looks like to be an eternally focused leader.

In God’s eyes, the greatest heroes of faith are not those who achieve prosperity, success, and power in this life, but those eternally focused leaders who treat life as a temporary assignment and serve faithfully, expecting their promised reward in eternity.

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*Would you prayerfully consider financially supporting The President’s Scholarship Fund for pastors wanting to attend Rockbridge Seminary?