The Most Important Question for Life Planning: Am I Doing the One Thing Needed?


The busyness of modern life needs no description. Society, culture, class, parents, employers, government, marriage, children, church, and self all have a different set of expectations that add weight to the burden of life. Men feel immense pressure to attempt to mimic the Greek titan Atlas whose job it was to shoulder the weight of the sky. Of course, men cannot do it. They are mortals, not gods, and the result of their pride is a range of painful injuries including addiction, burnout, anxiety, depression, anger, shame, and angst.

Recently, I was asked what verse Christian men need to hear more than any other. My answer was Luke 10:42, ‘One thing is needed.’ Repeatedly, Jesus’ perspective on life is scandalously simple. There is no bucket-list. There is not call for rabid multitasking. There is one thing. In fact, Jesus promises that if our chief objective is earnestly pursued then God will supply our other needs. In the Sermon on the Mount, he says, ‘Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’…But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you’ (Matt. 6:31, 33). Christian discipleship might be challenging, but it is not complicated. The objectives of life are reduced to a bare minimum, one. Our calling is to follow Christ.

The same simplicity evident in the life and teaching of Jesus is evident in the life and teaching of Paul. Paul may have had a difficult life, an adventurous life, and an energetic life, but he did not have a complicated life. For this reason he was able to write to the Philippians, ‘One thing I do’ (3:13). Paul’s tasks were wide, but his focus was narrow. He did not attempt to do everything. He did not attempt to experience everything. His agenda was to finish the race God had given him to run. 

Spiritual growth will forever suffer among men until they are convinced of their need to simplify. To attempt everything is to accomplish nothing. In fact, even Jesus did not attempt to do more than the Father had asked of him. In his high priestly prayer, he confessed that there were limitations on his calling. ‘I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do’ (17:4). Jesus did not do everything. He limited himself to the work God had given him to accomplish. Men today are dangerously naïve if they believe that they can do more than Jesus, the Son of God, did. In fact, they are worse than naïve. They are proud, and pride only ever leads to one thing, a fall (Prov. 16:18).

Questions for Small Groups/Self-Reflection

  • What is the ‘one thing needed’ (Luke 10:42)?

  • Are you doing the one thing needed?

  • What changes do you need to make in your daily routine in order to prioritize the one thing needed?