Could a Lesser Mission be Hijacking Your Primary Mission?

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The message on the cover of the recent Sports Illustrated issue contains a powerful reality check for every leader.

sports_illustratedROGER GOODELL’S MOMENT: The NFL commissioner is the most powerful man in sports, presiding over the most lucrative league in the world. His job right now is to stop it from all falling apart.

What is Goodell’s moment? It’s not connected to his primary mission (building and promoting the game of professional football). It’s connected to a lesser mission (divvying up billions of dollars in league revenues among millionaire owners and millionaire players).

Goodell must pay attention to how league revenues are doled out. That’s just not his primary mission.

In other words, Goodell’s primary mission could be hijacked by a lesser mission.

And this prompts a question that every leader should consider; “Are lesser missions hijacking me from my primary mission?”

There are church leaders who first arrived at their post with a vision to see their church “impact their community for Christ”, but whose defining moment ends up being about replacing the pews with theatre-style seats.

There are church leaders whose vision is to see “every person grow into the image of Christ”, but whose defining moment ends up being adding a Saturday night service.

Lesser missions are neither inappropriate nor unimportant. But they can easily preoccupy a leader and take focus off the primary mission.

How can you tell if your primary mission is being hijacked? Here are a few warning signs I’ve learned from great leaders:

  • Your board meetings and staff meetings are focused on lesser missions.
  • Your personal journal entries are dominated by concerns over lesser missions.
  • The books you’re reading are not connected to your primary mission.

If you think you might be sliding away from your primary mission, for the next month try paying attention to these indicators.

Because if you’re a leader in the local church, your primary mission is of far greater consequence than simply saving the NFL season!

How do you keep focused on your primary mission?

the author

Scott Cochrane


  1. This blog post is very helpful Scott. It is so easy to get side-tracked without even knowing it sometimes. Focus is crucial.

  2. A few warning signs that I recognize in my life and ministry:
    1. I sleep less when the primary mission is being distracted.
    2. My schedule is fuller and more complicated than when I am doing the right things, the right way, at the right time.
    3. My thoughts can become escapist and/or bitter towards the people and systems that are distracting me.

    Staying focused? I keep a number of things in mind:
    1. I am ruthless with my schedule, twitter, phone, and facebook.
    2. I stick to my pre-determined reading plan. This strategy keeps me moving in a particular direction, even when I don’t feel like it.
    3. I exercise, party, and sabbath well. This helps me be really on when I work.
    4. I write and record my goals and how they impact our primary mission. This helps for measuring, remembering, and focusing forward.
    5. I have a great team who are always thinking through our collective KPI’s; Key Performance Indicators. We’ve found this very helpful.

    Great post Scott.

  3. Jeremy; thanks for weighing in. I love that you’ve put such practical application to the general themes I was raising. If more of us maintained the kind of discipline you’re describing we’d see fewer drifts into lesser missions.

  4. Arthur, you said powerfully in 3 words what I was trying to say in 350 words! “Focus is crucial”. Typically when I have found myself ‘out of focus’ it’s been the result of a drift. It can start subtly, but you realize at some point that you’ve wandered away from the top priorities. Thanks for contributing to the conversation.

  5. Great post. Reminds me to put yourself at the right level in the hierarchy of things. Frame your challenges correctly and the right outcomes will follow.

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