Competition and Calling
“I tell you the solemn truth, when you were young, you tied your clothes around you and went wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will tie you up and bring you where you do not want to go.” (Now Jesus said this to indicate clearly by what kind of death Peter was going to glorify God.) After he said this, Jesus told Peter, “Follow me.” Peter turned around and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them. (This was the disciple who had leaned back against Jesus’ chest at the meal and asked, “Lord, who is the one who is going to betray you?”) So when Peter saw him, he asked Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus replied, “If I want him to live until I come back, what concern is that of yours? You follow me!” So the saying circulated among the brothers and sisters that this disciple was not going to die. But Jesus did not say to him that he was not going to die, but rather, “If I want him to live until I come back, what concern is that of yours?” John 21:18-23
I am like Peter, asking God the questions, “What about her?”, “What about him?”, “Why not me?”, “Why me?” In this passage (and I would argue in our lives today) God is not concerned about answering Peter’s question. It’s not a good question. It’s not the right question. Peter does not need to know what will happen to the beloved disciple although he desperately wants to. Instead of focusing on what’s happening in the beloved disciple’s life, God wants Peter to focus on what he has been called to. Peter has been called to feed Jesus’ sheep and to go where he may not want to go. Jesus simply says, “Follow me.”
I don't know about you but I look around a lot. I look around at what other people are doing, what they are wearing, how they speak. Looking at these things and more I then compare myself and subsequently rate myself. Better? Worse? Envious? Grateful? The various thoughts and emotions come in and I am pulled away from my calling and into the distracting and destructive competition of life.
Competition can be good, don't get me wrong, but it can be distracting at best and destructive at worst. We look around to watch where others are going rather than where we're going. We beat ourselves up or gloat in our accomplishments.
We have been created with natural talents and gifts. We have all had experiences and have opportunities to develop skills. All of these things contribute to our calling. All of these things contribute to what who we are and what we are called to by God.
As we spend our time looking around we miss opportunities to hear God and follow the path he's calling us to. We miss his simple command of, “Follow me.” Simple … yes. Easy … hardly. As we spend our time looking around we use our time and energy on the mental games of competition rather than fulfilling what we are being called to in the moment.
Competition can be good. For some it can propel them further into their calling. For many of us it bogs us down. It takes courage to look to God for what he is calling you to. It takes courage and faith to live the life he has called you to. Be courageous and live. Follow him.