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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I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
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Where may I purchase the Church Unique kit?
 
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