A Prayer to Focus on Our Unique Assignment
By Laura Bailey
“When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” - John 21:21-22 NIV
“Let me see your chore list!” my oldest daughter demanded, yanking the small slip of paper from her younger sister. Stomping down the stairs and barging into my room, she protested, “MOM! Why does she have fewer things to do than me?”
It wasn’t the first time we discussed differing responsibilities and addressed the more critical comparison issue. Letting out an exhausted sigh, I reminded my daughter that her tasks were appropriate for her just as her younger sisters were for her; she would do much better just to get to work than wasting time complaining and comparing assignments.
Early that week, I confessed to a friend that I was frustrated with one of my ministry roles, feeling my talent was being overlooked and underused. I then went further, openly criticizing the other sister in Christ chosen for the position, questioning her credentials and experience. I felt that all too familiar conviction of the Holy Spirit stirring my heart as I admonished my daughter.
At the end of the book of John, we read of an interaction between Peter and Jesus. In the early verses of John 21, we read where Jesus reinstated Peter after his betrayal, commanding him to “feed his sheep” and telling Peter of the death he would face. After being wholly forgiven for denying Christ and given the immense responsibility of caring for God’s people, Peter looked up, saw John, another of the disciples, and asked, “Well, what about him? What is he going to do?” The first time I read these verses, I thought, “Are you serious, Peter? That’s what you took away from your time with Jesus. You wanted to know what was going to happen to John. How dense are you?”
Have you ever responded like my daughter and me, or Peter?
Do you discount your home while wishing you had a house like your neighbor's?
Or do you find yourself discontented with work and wishing you had your coworker's assignment list instead?
In Peter’s defense, Jesus shared some weighty news about how Peter would die so that Peter would wonder about John’s fate. Jesus’ response to Peter is not critical but doesn’t answer Peter’s question. Instead, Jesus responds with a question, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?" (John 21:22)
Jesus was trying to make the point that Peter’s faith and God’s assignment for his life weren’t dependent on what would happen to John. The Lord has a unique plan for each of His children; our focus should be looking ahead, not from side to side, distracted by what God has planned for those around us.
What God has planned for someone else doesn’t change our assignment or call to obedience. Nothing good comes from comparing our circumstances to others; the Lord knew we would struggle with contentment, including “thou shall not covet” in the ten commandments.
May we be people so consumed with delighting in the Lord’s will for our own lives, focusing on our unique assignment, that we don’t have to waste our energy worrying about what others are doing. This is not to say that we don’t check in with our neighbors, ask about the lives of our friends and family, or touch base with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We can happily listen and encourage others in their unique assignments and obey God’s calling on our life because God created each of His children with a plan he predestined before the beginning of time (Ephesians 1:4-5).
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you that you are longsuffering with your children. We often neglect to give you praise and gratitude instead of cursing and complaining about our circumstances. Give us eyes to see people the way you do, choosing to rejoice with those who rejoice and encouraging one another as they seek to further your kingdom.
Forgive us when we compare our circumstances, desiring the gifts, talents, and resources of others. We ask that you fill our hearts with gratitude, reminding us daily of the infinite blessings you have bestowed in our lives. We love you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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Laura Bailey is a Bible teacher who challenges and encourages women to dive deep in the Scriptures, shift from an earthly to an eternal mindset, and filter life through the lens of God’s Word. She is a wife and momma to three young girls. She blogs at www.LauraRBailey.com, connect with her on Facebook and Instagram @LauraBaileyWrites
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