Perhaps you can relate. You might be the person who often gets overwhelmed with the crazy number of things going on in your life, each one deserving your full attention, but you can sense yourself stretching thin. You feel the anxiousness of wanting to please everyone around you but you doubt your ability to do so. You get to the point where the weight of your stress feels as though it’s crushing you, so the best course of action in your mind is to just give up. Any of this hitting home?
Maybe that’s you. Maybe it’s not. It’s not me. My mom has asked me multiple times throughout the years, “are you sure you aren’t putting too much on your plate at once?” I know her questions and concerns come from a place of love, but I always respond with “nope.” In my mind I justify what I’m doing by thinking “I could probably fit more onto my plate, actually. I’m super hungry anyway!” Truthfully, I almost never get stressed out. I’ve always had a lot of self-confidence so when a ton of stuff comes up all at once I get excited at the thought of dominating all of it. My problem is I try to take everything on by myself. Deep down I want sole responsibility so I can own 100% of the sense of accomplishment at the end. I like challenges and I like to push myself to see how much I can handle.
Whether responsibility makes you want to give up or whether it makes you attempt to accomplish everything all on your own, you are chasing responsibility in an unbiblical way. Both scenarios lack a complete trust in God. I will expound on this thought in a little bit, but first I want to explain why I decided to write this blog post.
Second, I feel the responsibility of now possessing the title of “Ministry Staff” with Athletes in Action. I am now going to be entrusted and expected to lead a ministry effort with AIA, which I was already doing in some ways before I came on staff, but now I have the title tied to my name. Now it is literally a job where I will have people supporting me financially. If I stumble in my relationship with Christ now I’m in a position where it could negatively affect A LOT more people than just myself. I know that to faithfully utilize this position with AIA that I have to step my game up big time.
Last, I’m about to leave Birmingham to go out to Spring Training in Arizona. There is an added sense of responsibility here because this is my second season. I’m entering this season knowing exactly what to expect. Because there are no surprises, I know I should be able to make an even bigger impact than I did last season. If you know me pretty well and you’ve heard me talk about my season with the Royals you probably heard about all the challenges I faced being a Christian in the environment of professional baseball. It is an environment filled with darkness and sin and not a whole lot of Christians who are actively pursuing Jesus. Because of the environment, and the fact that this is my second season and I’ve grown a ton since last season, I know I am in a position to make a really big impact for the Kingdom of God. But I also know that in order to do this I have to really step my game up.
So there it is. Three reasons why I feel responsible to step my game up. Now, I’ve explained how I would attack situations like this in the past, by completely trying to accomplish all these on my own, but the bible doesn’t have any examples of that. What is in the bible is a dude named Peter. And Peter is a great example to follow when it comes to chasing responsibility.
Let’s start by what we know about Peter during his time with Jesus. As one of the 12 disciples Peter got to spend a ton of time with Jesus in the midst of Jesus’ earthy ministry. Peter’s faith in Jesus could best be described as inconsistent. In Matthew 16, Jesus asked his group of disciples “But who do you say that I am?” and it was Peter who spoke up and replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Atta boy, Peter! But it was also Peter who showed a lack of faith towards Jesus. For example, in Matthew 14 when Jesus walked on water Peter had the boldness to leave the boat and walk on water towards Jesus, BUT he also became afraid and began to sink. “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?” said Jesus (Matthew 14:31). It was also Peter who denied Jesus three separate times when Jesus was in the process of getting arrested in crucified (Luke 22:54-62). No bueno, Peter!
Based on Peter’s inconsistency in the Gospel it would seem that Peter is not the best example to follow. Yes, he is the first to really proclaim Jesus as Lord, but he also shows a lack of faith and publically denies his affiliation with Jesus. If you keep on reading into the book at Acts you will see a completely different Peter. I love reading the book of Acts because it shows exactly how to live out the teachings of Jesus. If you want to evangelize, disciple, or just get a glimpse at the cost/benefit of following Jesus look no further than the book of Acts. All of the disciples were charged with the responsibility to spread the Gospel (pretty big responsibility I'd say) and they helped it spread like a wildfire, but Peter most definitely stands out above the rest in his role of the Gospel explosion. We can see his leadership forming from the very beginning in Acts chapter 1.
The book of Acts starts with Jesus leaving the disciples and ascending into heaven. After Jesus had left earth the disciples headed back to Jerusalem and gathered into a room to pray and devote themselves to the ministry that Jesus had called them into. It was here that Peter first spoke up to address the group and takes a leadership role (Acts 1:15). In Acts 2 we see the disciples are filled with the Holy Spirit. This is extremely significant because immediately after this is when the ministry begins to explode and grow. When the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit the place went crazy…
“And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:2-4). Now, this caused some witnesses to ask some questions. Some were confused and others were mocking them saying they must be drunk (Acts 2:12-13). Peter saw this as an opportunity. From verse 14 to verse 40 Peter unleashes the truth of the Gospel, and let me tell you he does not hold back.
Verse 37 shows how powerful the truth of the Gospel is: “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’” Without realizing it they threw Peter a fastball right into his wheelhouse, and he did not miss. Verse 38: “and Peter said to them, ‘repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”
The result of Peters’ boldness and faithfulness is outline in verse 41. “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”
Dang. That’s a lot.
Acts chapter 3 begins with Peter and John heading to the temple to pray. While they were on their way they were stopped by man who was lame. The crippled, helpless man asked Peter and John for money. Peter replies by explaining to the man that he doesn’t have any money but he does have something he can give him. “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:6). And the man who had been lame since birth immediately rose up and began to walk. This caused quite the scene as many people gathered around in astonishment regarding what they had just witnessed. Peter sees another opportunity. From verse 12 to verse 26 Peter shares the Gospel in all its glory and power, and because of that about 5,000 people come to believe in Jesus (Acts 4:6).
Dang. That’s a lot.
Now the high priests and Sadducees saw this and didn’t like it so they arrested Peter and John. Once they were arrested the high priests asked Peter and John, “by what power or by what name did you do this?” Peter sees another opportunity.
“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead – by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved’” (Acts 4:8-12).
This is the third time that Peter immediately sees an opportunity to share the Gospel, and each time he does it with powerful conviction. The first two opportunities lead to 8,000 people receiving Christ as their savior, but the response of the high priests and Sadducees is a little different. Let’s look at how they reacted:
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, saying ‘what shall we do with these men? For that notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may spread no further among the people, lest us warn them to speak no more to anyone in his (Jesus) name’ (Acts 4:13-17).
Safe to say that these folks didn’t receive Peter’s message as well as the first 8,000. The first two times Peter shared the Gospel were certainly encouraging, but they third time Peter was warned to never do it again. Do you think Peter was discouraged to hear this? Actually, this might have been the most encouraging thing to happen to Peter. When he and John were released they went back to be with the disciples where they gathered together and prayed. “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all your boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus” (Acts 4:29-30).
They knew that sharing the Gospel was not always going to be well received, but they prayed for boldness to go out and continue sharing anyway. Their heart to faithfully preach the Gospel was rewarded by an immediate answering of their prayers, as is shown in verse 31, “And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”
Chasing responsibility does not look like giving up when the high priests and Sadducees tell you to stop. It does not look like taking all of the credit when 8,000 people are saved by your preaching. After Peter witnesses Jesus ascending into heaven he understands that he has been given the responsibility to continue the earthly work of Jesus. This is a pretty darn big responsibility, but he chases it with the boldness that was given to him by God, which makes him the perfect example to follow.
Through the power of the Holy Sprit I can successfully lead a girl in a relationship. Through the boldness provided by Him alone I can successfully fulfill the ministry duties that are assigned to me. Through rejecting self-reliance and trusting in His guidance completely I can impact His kingdom in ways bigger than I can even fathom.
Chasing responsibility looks like praying to God to give you boldness, and trusting he will provide that boldness through the power of the Holy Spirit.