Echoes of the Heart: The Main Thing

Religious By Dr. Jeffrey Frantz, Special to The Miami Laker Friday, October 4, 2013

Keep "the main thing" the main thing. As we think about our lives, with all that is on our plate, amidst all the chaos that surrounds us, one of the most important things we can do is to keep "the main thing" the main thing. In our family lives, the main thing is making the necessary personal sacrifices for the wellbeing of the whole family; this requires a prioritizing of time and a focusing of energy.

There is no short cut; the main thing is the love that unites and sustains the family unit. In sports like tennis and golf, the main thing is playing to our strengths and remembering what our game is. In team sports, clearly, the main thing is a willingness to sacrifice personal achievements for the well-being of the team.

In the business world, the main thing is to stay focused on the big picture of what your business is about, of what you are good at, and not getting distracted by temptations that lose sight of the main thing.

John D. Rockefeller was once asked what his secret was for success as a business man. Three things, he reportedly said. Go to work early, stay late and find oil.

Part of the challenge here is that it is easy to get distracted in life. It's easy to get off track, to allow greed, ambition and short-term gratification to nudge us off our game. Remember who you are.

I've been a local church pastor for some four decades and I can tell you, churches have to take great care to stay focused on the core values of their mission and purpose. If they are not careful, easily, churches can get off track over the latest thing, or, for example, over the excitement and lure of secular success (i.e., when worship becomes performance).

Felton Yergen, the lead singer of the band, Homeland, has performed in dozens of churches around the country. A keen observer of churches, he could not help but notice that many of them were struggling. When asked his advice, his immediate reply was: Many of them have forgotten to keep "the main thing" the main thing.

All the time, churches get caught up in survival impulses where concerns over money and maintenance dominate their agenda. No matter what your life situation, it is important to remember who you are – who you are at your best. If you have enjoyed success in your life, remember what it was that got you there; remember what you do best.

If failure has marked your life in recent times, go back to drawing board. Reevaluate your gifts and strengths; come up with a new plan and start afresh. And when you uncover the main thing, keep "the main thing" the main thing. The courage to be who you are.

To keep "the main thing" the main thing, at some point we have to have the courage to be who we are. With external pressures, to say nothing of the harsh realities of life, sometimes we have to stand our ground.

Chaim Potok was a Jewish American author and rabbi who was known for his 1967 novel, The Chosen. Potok was an intensely religious man, a man of considerable intellect and depth who explored issues of faith through his writing. From early on, he remembers, he knew he wanted to be a writer. However, as he tells the story, his mother wasn't so sure. It was her dream that he become a brain surgeon.

You'll keep people from dying, she prodded him; and not only that, you'll make a lot of money. No mama, he would say. I want to be a writer

But that was not what his mother wanted to hear, so during every vacation from school, for four years, she would repeat her comments about his becoming a brain surgeon. It would be a great career for you, she would say, and you'll keep a lot of people from dying, and make a lot of money

Finally the son had enough and the next time his mother started in on him, exasperated, he cut her off and with great passion, told her: Mama, I don't want to keep people from dying, I want to show them how to live

For Chaim Potok, showing people how to live through his writing was the main thing.