Today as I read my devotional, I was struck by what John D. Barry wrote about John the Baptist:
When given the opportunity to reach for power, to be known as the Messiah, John said no. He would not claim authority that had not been given to him.1
He would not claim authority that had not been given to him. That was the part that slammed me like a hammer. I am a responsibility magnet. If something needs to be done, you can count on the fact that I will either do it myself or take charge of the situation and make sure it gets done. I have many times assumed responsibility for things that were not mine to carry. There have been times when one of my children needed to go through a trial, not be rescued from it. God had a plan in which He intended to teach them something they needed for their character or to prepare them in life. Responsibility magnet that I am, I jumped right in there and assumed responsibility for their trial. “They must be going through this because of something I did wrong…or, I’m not a good mom…or, I should help them through this…or, I’ll make it easier for them and rescue them completely.” I take responsibility for it and assume authority over it. Did you catch that? I assume authority over God’s work. (This is where the hammer comes in.)
I know there have been times when I took charge of something and later felt like a complete failure because I could not possibly get it all done. Perhaps it was not all mine to do?? I assume authority that has not been given to me and it creates a mess! Things get all out of order when I fail to ask the Lord if He has given me authority in a situation. If I know for a fact that God has given me authority over something or someone, it is a weighty responsibility and I am quite aware that I am answering to Him for the way I handle it. If I never ask to begin with…well, I’m STILL answering to Him! My child, I did not give you authority for this. You have shouldered up My job and you are not equipped to handle it. Yes, I hear you, Lord.
And what about the times I am aggravated because I am not given authority? Oh yes, there are those too. Times I am called to submit to another’s authority. Times I am called to wait upon God and sit under His authority alone. Just typing this I can feel the churning inside because I know so well how I strain against this. My old ugly pride, like a match thrown on kindling, will catch fire and blaze up within me. I could have done a much better job if you’d just let me handle it. <grumble…grumble> I don’t agree with what you are doing! <grumble…grumble> I don’t like the leadership in authority over me. <grumble…grumble> Why do you tell me to just sit and be quiet? I have so many good things to say! <grumble…grumble> You’re not the boss of me! <grumble…grumble> What in the world have they been doing? If I were in charge of this, it would already be finished. <grumble…grumble> Oh, my friend, I pray you do not relate to this paragraph. I pray that you do not struggle as I do with pride. Yet somehow it is part of the human story. I so need to release my grasp and not assume authority that has not been granted to me.
Lord, give me big ears, a willing heart, and a loose grip. Amen.
19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” John 1:19-20
 John D. Barry and Rebecca Kruyswijk, Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012).