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Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing


The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. ~T.F. Tenney

If you’ve been around me for any length of time over the last 30 years or so, you’ve heard me echo this great Tenneyism.

There are few better words of advice, fewer truths to build your life around and fewer foundations that will withstand time.

For years, I have considered myself a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. It’s a blessing and it’s a curse. Indeed, you can answer almost any call, be productive at most any task and offer assistance with most any need if you are the jack-of-all-trades.

It also means you aren’t an expert or specialist at any one thing, and that can be a curse, especially when considering your calling or life goals. So, yes, that’s a confession of sorts: I haven’t always kept the main thing the main thing when it comes to my vocation and talents.

T.F. Tenney was a master of the art of communicating. So much so that he published a book of what I call Tenneyisms, a gold mine of wisdom from his many messages and sermons. The name of the book: The Main Thing is to Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing.

Keeping the main thing the main thing is an effort in focus and priorities and it transcends every facet and aspect of your life. It can show up in your marriage, at your workplace, with your kids and other relationships, in your church, in your business, in your to-do list, in your play.

Devoting a little of yourself to everything means committing a great deal of yourself to nothing.” ~Michael LeBoef.

Saying “no!” is not a sin. Sometimes, a “good thing” isn’t necessarily “good for you, especially when it’s not your main thing! It’s okay if you don’t spread yourself too thin. It’s okay if you don’t go in a thousand directions, and get nowhere. It’s okay to be laser focused and have tunnel vision.

In his book You’re Born an Original, Don’t Die a Copy, John Mason says: “One person with focus constitutes a majority. The focused straight-and-narrow way has the lowest accident rate.”

Marriages fail because spouses lose sight of the main thing. For a husband, that’s the wife. For the wife, that’s the husband. Businesses go under, often because the owners lose focus on what got them there. People become disenchanted with life because they lose focus of their main thing: Their purpose or their calling.

Keep the main thing the main thing.

Can it really be that easy? Is the power of focusing on the main thing to the exclusion of other things be that important?

The reason most goals are not achieved is that we spend our time doing second things first.” ~Robert McKain.

Try it with your spouse. Men, listen to your wife. Without the cell phone or the TV. Ladies, show him the respect he’s due. Yes, yes, I understand there may be lots of water under the bridge, but if you want to keep the main thing the main thing, make it happen.

You can try it with your job, your money, your kids, your friends. Even try it with God, you may be surprised at the outcome.

When it comes to God, He simply wants a relationship. Time. Quality time. Many people conflate religion with Christianity, but they really aren’t the same. Christianity is a lifestyle, religion is a ritual.

With God, keeping the main thing the main thing is spending time together. It’s what Moses did. It’s what Isaiah, David, Paul, John and others did. And that time spent together with God is what set them apart.

Finding the main thing in an area of your life will change things for you. Keeping the main thing the main thing may keep you away from some “good things”, but to borrow from John Mason, it may also lower your accident rate.

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