FOCUS Part 1: The Foundation for Teaching Servanthood

F.O.C.U.S.  For Teaching Servanthood: (Focus On Christ’s Unconditional Salvation)
This article is the first in a series of four articles by Reverend Douglas Gaunt. Each article discusses the importance of FOCUS as youth workers minister in the Name of Christ. This article deals with a Focus on Christ’s Unconditional Salvation, the foundation for teaching servanthood to youth.

“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.”  (Matthew 24:45-46)

Back when wearing W.W.J.D. bracelets was popular, my good friend Jim made one for me that I will always hold special.  He handcrafted a beautiful piece with black and brown glass beads separating pewter cubed letters shortly before he died from cancer.  This bracelet was different because the letters were W.D.J.D., standing for “What Did Jesus Do?” rather than “What Would Jesus Do?”

I certainly appreciated Jim’s gift and sentiment.  I especially appreciated his twist on the popular idea. By asking, “What Did Jesus Do?” Jim shifted the focus from what we do as imitators of Christ’s mortality to who we are as forgiven children of God. This subtle shift emphasizes what Christ did by living a sinless life and still dying on the cross to forgive our sins. In theological terms, this shift better addresses the difference between justification and sanctification.

However, I wasn’t completely satisfied even with this new twist, so I asked Jim to swap the letters W.D.J.D. for the letters F.O.C.U.S.

“Focus” is a term used in Japanese martial arts.  It describes the goal of having all of one’s physical and mental energy come together at a single point of impact, whether blocking, kicking, punching or striking.  But this idea can also be applied to our Christian lives, especially in terms of justification and sanctification. What Jesus did for our forgiveness (justification), and what the Holy Spirit is doing for our moral lifestyle (sanctification), come together to deal a one-punch deathblow to the devil in our fight to be Christian servants, reflecting Christ’s love and sacrifice in our work for others instead of merely going through the motions of service for the sake of recognition or praise.

Since my friend created my F.O.C.U.S. bracelet, I like to compose acronyms for it.  The most important one is a reminder to Focus On Christ’s Unconditional Salvation.  The keyword is “unconditional” because our hope for living in heaven, or hanging tough while we wait, does not depend on what we do or how well we serve on earth.  Jesus took care of all this by what He did.  But F.O.C.U.S. is also a reminder to stay focused and keep from being distracted from the things I need to do in the meantime.

This acronym also helps me as both pastor and parent remember the importance of teaching servanthood while doing service. It was a wise youth worker who coined the phrase Servant Events rather than Service Events. While doing service is important, teaching teens to be servants is a noble task that has far-reaching effects. It’s like the old adage, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day.  Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” To this, we might add, “and so will others.”  Only God knows the hundreds of people who can reap the benefits of one teen’s service-oriented heart. Once Jesus has established who we and our youth are, what we do will naturally follow with the help of the Holy Spirit.

In the next article, Pastor Gaunt examines another way to FOCUS: Focus on Christ’s Unselfish Sacrifice, the model for teaching servanthood to youth. In teaching teens servanthood, it is important to emphasize the fact that our sacrificial acts are not intended to divert God’s attention to us, the servants. Rather, our acts help us to focus our attention on Jesus and the sacrifice He made for us. 

Published January 1, 2004

About the author

Rev. Doug Gaunt has been the pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church and School in St. Charles, MO, for nearly 30 years.  Prior to attending Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, IN, he was a correctional officer and sergeant in the Indiana Dept. of Corrections.  Pastor Gaunt and his wife, Carol, have three sons, two daughters-in-law, and eleven grandchildren.  He enjoys reading, playing the guitar, personal fitness training, and playing with his dog, Petra, (a beautiful boxer-pitbull mix).
View more from Douglas

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