The hike up California’s Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous U.S., entails 22 miles and nearly 7,000 feet in elevation gain. For those who tackle it in one day, like my best friend and me, it demands 12-16 hours of sheer exertion.
The beauty of a pilgrimage is that it requires minimal excess and maximum focus. When everything you need is carried on your back, your mindset shifts to practices that sound outlandish in the real world; like wearing only one or two shirts, cutting off the end of your toothbrush, and leaving your laptop at home. You pack light because every additional ounce makes the journey more difficult.
On the flipside, your only goal is clear: Peak the mountain. Finish the hike. Make it safely home.
Women’s NPA’s theme for this year is “20/20 vision.” In the same vein, this month is about focus - focusing as a leader, as a Christian, as the main character of your specific life. Just as if you were going on a pilgrimage, there are three things deserving of your attention that allow you to focus on your path.
1. God’s goodness and His concern for you.
“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2
As a leader, you are turning God’s calling for your life into action. God is not a sideline fan - He is both a teammate running alongside you, and a coach waiting at the finish line. By fixing your eyes on Him, you can run with strength and perseverance, unafraid of failure.
2. Your long-term vision.
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:2
When I ascended Mount Whitney, the first half of the hike was propelled by my desire to reach the top of the mountain. All other distractions, like achy legs or breath-sucking elevation change, were overshadowed by my goal. Once I had peaked and enjoyed a sandwich at the top, I began the descent. My goal adjusted only slightly: Make it back to the trailhead. A clear vision makes the journey more bearable, and even exciting! What is the vision you are charging toward?
3. Your next step for today.
Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Proverbs 4:25
As Annie Dillard famously said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Of the many, many steps that lie between you and your goal, which one will you take today? The trek up Mount Whitney took many steps, but the only one I could consider was the next step. It is daunting to consider all the tasks that must be done in our lives. By focusing your vision on what lies directly ahead, you have a clear and achievable course forward.
When focus is required, we must make a concerted effort to eliminate distractions and identify the clearest path. We look forward to seeing where your focused vision takes you. Bon voyage!