What’s your focus?

By Anthony Banks

Whether you are bi-vocational or in ministry full-time, you are in for a ride. As a pastor, minister, or church planter, a lot of times people don’t really understand what you are going through balancing family, work, and church. Nothing is easy, and sometimes you will struggle to find the motivation to continue.

That’s why it is so important that your motivation comes from constantly staying in prayer!

I know I’m not telling you anything new when I say you need focus. You know good and well that you can’t let anything slip. “Slipping” happens when you forget to do things at home because of the ministry, or when you struggle to find time at church because of your work.

There is no way, decent or above decent, to love my family, take care of the ministry, or maintain my job if I am not focused on the Lord! 

First, there is my family. My wife needs me, and my kids need me. They need my love and my care and my affection and my time. Scripture says my family is my priority, because if I can’t lead and care for my family well, then how can I take care of the church? (1 Timothy 3:1-5)

{ There is no way, decent or above decent, to love my family, take care of the ministry, or maintain my job if I am not focused on the Lord! }


Then there is Second Baptist Turrell, where the people need a teacher and a listener and a counselor. I don’t want to neglect one of them because they’re all important. I’m not a hired hand but a servant, one who serves by giving of himself and leading his sheep, and I am responsible to God for how I lead.

And last, but not least, is work. Of course I must do the job I have been hired to do. Unlike in the ministry where I want to be like Christ going after one sheep gone astray, at work I am more like a shepherd looking for all the other sheep! My drive and focus at work tends to be different from the ministry. 

I pray and talk with Him about these things—what all these people want from me—and then pray for myself! You and I must have His help if we are to do all these things as He would have us to do.

But I’m just warning you: stepping out in this feels like quicksand. You’re going to have to trust. Because when thoughts and distractions come flooding in, that’s when you have to continue to keep your eyes on Him.

Remember how Peter was walking on the water toward Jesus? I am like Peter sometimes because when He wants me to come out on the water, I go, but then I get distracted by the wind and the waves. I would say to a pastor or church planter, “Don’t take your eyes off Him!”

Distractions are a form of worrying. I would say that if you’re going to pray, then why worry? You have to do one or the other. Worrying can’t add anything to your life but stress. Worrying doesn’t add time or days to your life.

If you are worrying, then you are not trusting Him because worry won’t allow you to trust. Worrying is like saying that someone is standing behind you and strong enough to catch you, but you’re still worried about them catching you when you fall. You aren’t trusting them.

{ …when thoughts and distractions come flooding in, that’s when you have to continue to keep your eyes on Him. }


Maybe at the church you’re worried about an increase in visitors, salvations, or baptisms. Are you worrying why there aren’t more? Are you worrying about what you’re doing or not doing? Scripture says, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God gave the increase…” (1 Corinthians 3:6-8)

You just plant! Water if you have to, but God will send the increase. That is what the Word says: to trust Him! If we’re focusing on other things like Peter, then we’ll start sinking. We must continue to focus on Him.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Come to your family with complete trust in Him. Come to your ministry with complete trust in Him. Come to your job with complete trust in Him. If you’re not focused on God, why are you doing any of it? God should be the focus first, always.

Without Him, there is no us. That’s the reason we have to get up in the morning and say, “You have given me this morning, and You are the reason I woke up this morning.”

A lot of times we “lose it” because we lose focus. At the end of a long day we are tired and lose focus, but in the morning we wake up with a fresh look! We don’t wake up because we’re good; we wake up because He is good!

He has given us this day. That’s focus.

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Listening: time well spent

Have you ever listened to someone talk for what you thought was a few minutes, but it turns out you had been listening for an hour or more?

It happened to me recently as I sat-in on a recording for The Grind, an Arkansas Baptists podcast where church planters share their God-stories, planting strategies, and their heart for reaching the lost. I had never been a part of a podcast before (and really, I didn’t contribute to the conversation! I was just present for the recording), but I have to say my first time was a memorable one.

For this episode, The Grinds hosts (Dave and Chad) invited a local, seasoned church planter from Hot Springs named Mike Prince. A soft-spoken man with a calm demeanor and firm yet gentle handshake, Mike seemed to have everyone in the room listening for the wisdom he might share.

He talked about hanging out at McDonald’s as a way to try and have Gospel conversations. He talked about wrestling with the people God has called him to. He talked about “coincidences” that in the end proved to be divine appointments. He talked about God saving people’s souls and changing their lives.

All the while I was thinking, What’s keeping me from doing what Mike is doing? Is it because I don’t have the burden for the lost that I think I do? 

As if to answer what I was thinking, Mike said, “Right now we have so many opportunities, but we need the workers…people who will be all in.” How appropriate it was that this was one of the last things he said for the podcast. It was like a call-to-action.

{ “Right now we have so many opportunities, but we need the workers…people who will be all in.” }

~Mike Prince, Garage Church Hot Springs 

What had felt like a few minutes in the podcast turned out to be much longer, and I think time spent with God tends to be like that sometimes. I might not have physically seen Him in the room where we were recording the podcast, but His presence was there in the words Mike shared.

Mike was speaking of His redemption for His people. Mike’s heart was echoing the Lord’s heart: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”

I left thinking about what years in a prison cell must feel like to a person without Christ. This is what it’s like for the people Mike ministers to in prison. Then I thought about what a day in heaven must be like, when Scripture says, “Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere” (Psalm 84:10a). What a gift not just for the prisoner but for a sinner like me.

I may not be a church planter. But I’m a believer. And sitting in on this podcast was a reminder of the work that I’m called to do, too.

Listen to The Grind episode with Mike here:
By Rachel Gaddis
Rachel is a member of the communications team for Arkansas Baptists