In John 17, we find Jesus close to the end of his earthly ministry and he is praying what is known as his High Priestly Prayer. In John 17:4 he says, “I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” Jesus was on earth for a mission. There is no denying that truth. Regardless of how we judge or perceive his work, it’s clear that he believed he did what he came to do. There is a lot we could say about that, but I want to talk for a moment about purpose.
At the end of my life here on earth, there is a lot that I hope people will say about me. I hope to have accomplished a ton of stuff by then. There are places I want to see, people I want to meet and I want to know that I have lived life to the fullest. I honestly could write a book about all that I want to happen between now and then, but what’s the most important stuff? Loving God obviously is at the very top of the list. Loving my wife and kids well would fall right under that for me. Being a good pastor and carrying out my calling well also makes it to the top of the list, but what’s the bulls eye? What is the most important thing to focus on? They say that if everything is important, then nothing is important. So, what is it for you and me?
I think that what Jesus said in the above passage sums it up perfectly. “I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” Jesus was given work to do by God and so have we. God has given you a specific work to do…did you know that? The reason you are still above room temperature is because that work isn’t done yet. If it was, it’d be time for you to get the eternal promotion. I can think of nothing better for us to be able to say at the end of our lives than that we completed the work God gave us to do.
So, if you’re on board with that, how do we go about engaging in and finishing the work God gave us? There is no formula for this. There are helpful principles, but there are no formulas. Each one of us is different and unfortunately, there isn’t a specific book of the Bible dedicated to each of us. Let me give you some ideas that will hopefully be helpful…
- Start a relationship with Jesus
In the preceding verse, John 17:3, Jesus says, “And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.” The conversation about what your work looks like can’t even begin until you begin a relationship with Jesus. He loves you, he died for you and he has a purpose for your life. In fact, in Revelation 3:20 Jesus is speaking and he says, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” Jesus is saying he wants to have that conversation with you. Your job is to open the door.
2. Spend quality time with him daily
Having a relationship with Jesus is not about box-checking, it’s about pursuing the heart of God with everything you have. I’m not trying to guilt you into reading the Bible, but reading the Bible daily and writing your prayers in a journal are very helpful disciplines. Again, don’t confuse the vehicle with the destination. The goal is pursuing God’s heart and reading the Bible and praying are simple ways to do that.
3. Find some mentors
They could be mentors that you know in real life or distant mentors that you learn from through books, but we all need mentors. These are men and women that we look to for wisdom and guidance. They have walked in our shoes before and they can offer invaluable wisdom as we navigate life’s challenging waters. When it comes to finding mentors to have relationship with, I would start by asking some of these people to lunch. Maybe don’t ask them if they’ll be your lifelong mentor because that sounds like a pretty daunting task. Just start by engaging in conversation and make sure you let them do most of the talking. Your job is to take notes, listen and apply what’s being taught.
4. Surround yourself with life-giving community
The Christian journey was not meant to be done on our own. We were meant to find encouragement and support through deep and meaningful friendships. These relationships are worth the effort to pursue, so don’t take a backseat on this one. Initiate these friendships and be the one who is a catalyst for community. Make your house the place to hang out at and you be the one to invite the person to Starbucks. Don’t sit back and wait for these friendships to materialize out of thin air…go after them!
There is more I can say about this, but I want to honor your time and keep the focus simple. I want to be able to get to the end of my life and say that I completed the work God gave me to do. I don’t know what that work is going to look like and I don’t know how everything is going to pan out. I know I’ve done some of the work already and I have a sense that I still have a long way to go. To do that work, I need to hear from God by all necessary means. I need to be intimately connected with him through his word and in prayer. I need the support of life-giving community and I need godly mentors who can help guide me along the way.
There are a lot of things that we could make the focus of our life’s journey. We could make the target having lots of money, influence, friends and status. There isn’t anything necessarily wrong with these things, but the clearer the focus, the better off we’ll be. Jesus’ earthly ministry only lasted 3 years and he started a revolution that changed the world. His focus was on completing the work God gave him to do. My hope for us is that we’ll have the same focus and that by doing so, we can be a part of is plan to change the world.