God’s To-Do List: Learning to Stay on Task

I’m the fifth of six kids in our family. When I was a child, there was a Saturday morning tradition in our house. After breakfast, Mom and Dad retreat to their room for a conference. The goal is to determine which tasks need to get done that day. 


Later, they emerged with a single sheet of yellow legal pad paper, which we called “Charts.” There are six columns of chores, one list per child. Each list is roughly the same length. And each child is responsible for the jobs on his or her list. When, and only when, the list is complete, the worker can relax, play outside and connect with friends. You can work on somebody else’s list, but you’re still ultimately responsible for what’s on yours.


The jobs vary, based on your age and capacity to execute them. If you can hold a broom, you sweep. If you can safely operate the lawnmower, you do the grass. The “Charts” are rarely fun, but they’re doable. And usually, unless you have bonus tasks added for insolence over the week, you could grind them out in an hour. 


In hindsight, there is a beauty in the simplicity. Parents survey the situation and delegate work to a competent, if unwilling, labor force. For the system to function, people must know their role and execute their tasks.


Have you ever stopped to consider that God makes “Charts” too? 
That there is a list of spiritual and ordinary tasks with you name, and only your name on it? Consider what the apostle Paul writes to the church in the ancient Greek city of Corinth:


1 Corinthians 3:5-7 After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.


I love this line: “Each of us did the work the Lord gave us.” Paul’s work was to plant the message of Christ in the Corinthian church, Apollos (who came later) watered it. They had complementary roles and unique tasks. When they stuck to their respective scripts, God used their efforts to produce growth. When Paul does what he needed to do and Apollos does what he needed to do, then God does what only God can do- something incredible.


What work has the Lord given specifically to you?
What’s on your list? Do you know?
Are you doing it? Or do you catch yourself picking up work on someone else’s list?


When I look back on unfruitful seasons of my life, times where I felt emotionally and spiritual unfulfilled, I now see I wasn’t doing the work God gave me. I may have been doing what I thought was right or what someone told me to do or what I saw someone else doing. But I wasn’t clear on what God was asking me to do. The result was frustration and restlessness.


God has “chart” with your name at the time. Find out what on it. Stop doing what’s not.


Craig Custance