The Power of Your One Thing

Over forty-five years ago, László Polgár was a published author and believer in the theory that genius is made, not born. He was convinced that early and intense specialization in a particular subject produces incredible results. But he wanted to test this theory personally. He wanted a wife with whom he could partner to raise kids radically committed to one thing. He married Klara, and when their firstborn daughter Susan was  four, she discovered a chess set while rummaging through a cabinet. Susan’s interest was piqued, so the family decided to focus on chess.

Chess would become their one thing.

Neither László nor Klara were strong chess players. Klara did not know one chess rule when the board was discovered. But László began to practice chess with great intentionality and intensity with his daughter Susan and the two daughters to follow. László fought for permission from the Hungarian authorities for the right to homeschool his daughters, and hours each day were devoted to chess. Their apartment in Budapest was filled with thousands of books on chess and a file card system that allowed them to evaluate previous matches.

The results of the deliberate practice are incredible. Susan, at the age of 21, became the world’s first female grandmaster in chess. Judit, the youngest daughter, is known as the greatest female chess player in history. And Sophia, the middle daughter, was once ranked the sixth strongest female player in the world.

At least two thoughts emerge from reading their remarkable story:

1)    There is power in focusing on one thing.

When there is one overarching passion that drives a person, an organization, or a ministry, the clarity is liberating. Decisions are made in light of the one thing. Schedules reflect the priority of the one thing. And the energy focused in one direction makes a major impact.

For a local church, the main thing must be the person and work of Jesus. I love what Tim Keller says in Center Church: “Because the gospel is endlessly rich, it can handle the burden of being the one ‘main thing’ of a church.”

2)    He is the only “one thing” that will satisfy.

Many believe that the middle daughter, Sophia, had the ability to be the best, but she did not work as hard at the game as the other two. For a season, however, the game would not leave her alone. She was obsessed with it. Her father once found her in the bathroom in the middle of the night with a chessboard balanced across her knees. “Sophia, leave the pieces alone!” her father said, shaking his head. “Daddy, they won’t leave me alone!” she replied. But in the end, other things captured her heart. She said, “It’s not that chess was too much for me; it was too little.”

Whatever our “one thing” is, it won’t leave us alone. Whatever or whoever is our god ultimately owns us. And if we allow something other than Him to be our one thing, we are attempting to allow a lesser thing to satisfy us. We are wise if we realize that the things of this world are not too much for us but too little. They are not too great. They are not great enough.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 
Thank you for this article! I'm the pastor of a small church. My gifting is in teaching and we are known for aiding Christians in becoming Biblically literate. Visitor's often comment on God's presence being very real in our services. But we just don't seem to be growing. I have some soul-searching, etc. to do and this article provides some solid ground from which to proceed. Thank you again.
 
— Jonathan Schultheis
 

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