If you are like me, you have more on the to-do list than you have time to get done. There are some days when I will take out the to-do list. I will start working on one thing but before I finish, I will move on to something else. I will continue to skip from one thing to the next before I actually finish any one thing.
At the end of the day, I will wonder why I was so busy but didn’t seem to get anything done and still have a long list of unfinished items. Maybe you can relate? Maybe you feel that way too?
In John 21:1-14, we read about a miraculous catch of fish. And there are some lessons to learn here about accomplishing significant things with the time God gives us. To stop spinning your wheels:
1. Have an Objective
It all started with a clear intention:
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” (John 21:3, ESV)
If Peter had not decided to go fishing there would have been no catch of fish. The point is that if we do not have an objective we will be distracted and pulled in a million different directions. Peter’s objective was to catch fish and he was going to spend the entire night fishing if that was what he needed to do.
Do you want to feel better about what you accomplish on a given day? Have an objective! At the beginning of your day, write down ONE THING that you aim to accomplish. And build your day around accomplishing that objective.
Many days I set out with good intentions of things that I want to accomplish. But I get a phone call or an email. There are urgent matters that call for my attention. My good intention gets set aside for these other urgent matters. At the end of the day, I simply run out of time to devote to my good intention.
That is where having an objective comes in. An objective is more than an intention. An objective is to say that if I get nothing else accomplished today, I am going to accomplish this one thing. It is about what I choose to set aside. Without an objective, I will tend to set aside the important for the urgent. But with an objective, I will better set aside the urgent for the important.
2. Have the Help of Others
The type of fishing that Peter was going to do required other people to help. And fortunately, he had these other people to help.
They (the other disciples) said to him, “We will go with you.” (John 21:3, ESV)
There are few significant things in life that we can accomplish on our own. Let me rephrase that! There is NOTHING significant that we can accomplish in life on our own. We need the help of others.
Sometimes the task physically demands more than one person. This was the case with Peter’s fishing expedition.
There are other times we need emotional support. There can be days that are frustrating. It’s good to know that you have the loving support of a spouse, a parent, or a good friend.
Other times we need advice. There are times when something sounds like a great idea to me. But when I share the idea with someone else, they help me see that what I thought was great, was not so great.
We also need instruction. There are books to read. Classes to attend. Instructional videos to watch. There are skills to be learned from others to help us accomplish our God-given tasks.
3. Do the Work
This one sounds simple, but is what often separates those who accomplish goals in life from those who do not.
If you are going to build, you need to build. If you are going to create, you need to create. If you are going to write, you need to write. If you are going to sing, you need to sing. You are not going to accomplish anything unless you do the work.
But we procrastinate. We delay. We allow ourselves to be distracted by social media, by the latest release on Netflix, by the big game, by the beautiful day, by the next shiny object. There is always something to distract us from the task at hand.
But the disciples went out, got in the boat, and fished!
They went out and got into the boat… (John 21:3, ESV)
They would have never caught any fish without doing the work. IF YOU ARE GOING TO CATCH FISH, YOU NEED TO FISH.
4. Stick with It
It is true that they had a long night of futility.
That night they caught nothing.” (John 21:3, ESV)
And there are times when we may feel like we are working hard and have nothing to show for our efforts. But continue to show up every day!
Be persistent. Be consistent. You may not make the progress that you want today. But make a little progress each day.
- Books get written one page at a time.
- Debt is paid off one dollar at a time.
- You lose weight one workout at a time.
- You earn the degree taking one class at a time.
We tend to overestimate what we accomplish on a given day. But we underestimate what we can accomplish over the course of a year by making a little progress every day. But you need to show up every day. When you fail to show up one day, the next day becomes a little more difficult to show up.
There were many times the disciples might have felt like giving up over the course of the night. But they didn’t. They continued to stick with it. If they had not stuck with it, they would have missed out on the amazing breakthrough that they would soon experience.
You may feel like quitting. You may not feel like putting in the effort. Our biggest mistake is often relying more on our timing than God’s timing. And it always seems that God’s timing is a little longer than ours. One of the recurring cries of the Psalms is “how long, O Lord?” The answer: just a little longer. Keep doing what God is calling you to do. He will prosper your way IN HIS TIME!
There are many times that it is not about what we are doing but how we are doing it. If something is not working, be willing to change the way you are doing it. But we get stuck in our patterns and our ways.
He (Jesus) said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. (John 21:6, ESV)
It was such a small thing to cast the net on the right side instead of the left side. But this small change brought about an incredible result.
Try something new. Try something different. Take a different approach. The way you have always done it IS NOT THE ONLY WAY or the best way to do it. The best way to do something five years ago may not be the best way to do it today.
6. Connect the Change to Jesus
The disciples did not realize that it was Jesus who told them to cast the nets to the right side.
That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” (John 21:7, ESV)
But after the miraculous catch of fish, it was evident who it was. It was Jesus!
God is our help in time of need. Jesus promises that he is always there. We have the gift of prayer. When we are struggling we can cry out to him. We can ask him for help. We can seek his guidance.
God has more to say than we often realize. Jesus says, “Keep asking and you will be given. Keep knocking and the door will be opened. Keep seeking and you will find” (see Matthew 7:7). Almost every problem we encounter in life is ultimately a God problem.
I imagine if we began more tasks with Jesus, we would save ourselves a lot of aggravation. But we do things our way and it is only when we find ourselves stuck that we turn to Jesus. Yes, it’s better late than never. But it’s definitely better early than late.
7. Don’t Get Caught Up in Success or Failure
It is easy to miss what this story is about. Yes, there is the miraculous catch of fish. But that is not the greatest miracle.
Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” (John 21:12, ESV)
The greatest miracle was that Jesus was risen from the dead and the disciples were now having breakfast with him. That is the greatest miracle of all time. The fish thing was old hat for Jesus. Remember how he had fed the 5000?
We are not about our success or failures. We are not about the things we accomplish or fail to accomplish. I am a type-A, driven, and focused type person. I tend to make it about what I am able to make happen. But I have had to learn to be content in Jesus. I am not a “human doing,” but a human being. My value is not in my success. My value is in knowing Jesus.
At the end of life, you will not wish that you had achieved more. Your biggest regrets will be that you did not relate more to family, to friends, and ultimately to Jesus.
On any given day, you may be frustrated that you did not accomplish more. But did you spend time with those that matter most? Your spouse? Your children? Your parents? Your friends? Jesus? And if you can answer yes, to that question, I would say that day was a success.
Savor each moment! Savor each person! And that will go a long way in discovering the joy in each day.