Did you ever get put in charge of something?
The answer is, ‘sure you have!’
Throughout life, we are put in charge of all kinds of things.
Growing up,… at work,… at home,… in our social settings.

Besides being a pastor in a church, I’ve been in charge of lots of things.
In sixth grade when I played peanut league baseball, we had no manager so I ended up in charge of the team.  I set the lineup, put kids at positions, changed pitchers.
After high school, when I got a job at hardware store,  I was put in charge of a section of the store.  I knew where everything was, kept shelves stocked, ordered items.
After college I had a job where people came in to file complaints about their jobs and I ended up in charge of interviewing and screening those who sought relief.
When I bought a home in a town, I was on a town Council I was put in charge of overseeing the sewer and water plants and making sure they ran well.

But those are just some of the formal things I can think of through the years.
I was also in charge of drying dishes after supper every other night when I was a kid.
Later I got a dog and was in charge of house breaking and training and walking him.
At one point I was in charge of raising children and seeing to their safety and learning.

In our Gospel lesson, Jesus asks the disciples “who do you say that I am?
And Peter, the outspoken one, gives him the textbook correct answer.
Of course, Peter was the sort of leader all along anyway, so maybe Jesus set him up.
But be that as it may….. Jesus essentially says to Peter;..’OK, Peter, right answer my friend, and for that,…..now you are in charge’.

Then he goes on to describe the job duties and Peter’s role in starting up the church.
And, he says that full responsibility will be upon Peter’s shoulders in his task.
But he assures Peter that he is blessed and that forces of hell won’t overcome him. 
The rest, as they say, is history as Peter helped to define and develop the church.

You may think that this was an onerous assignment and one that you could never do.
That may be true, because not everyone has the skills to be in charge like Peter was.
There’s lots of things that I could never be in charge of no matter how much I prepped.
But there is one thing that both you and I are in charge of that we can handle. 
It’s been the biggest challenge I’ve faced over the years - being in charge of myself.

All human beings have the charge put upon them to live life as best we can.
But being people baptized into, and promising to follow, Jesus Christ means more.
Because, more than just being in charge of ourselves to find food, clothing and shelter,….
Jesus puts us in charge of ourselves with high hopes and expectations like with Peter.

You are in charge of yourself and Jesus wants you to use him and his teaching as tools in your trade of being in charge of yourself.
He wants us to nurture our faith by coming to worship if we can and staying connected with him.
He wants us to reflect on our shortcomings and admit them and try to correct them.
He wants us to always work on being a better person in the world we live in.
In short, he wants us to reflect him in how we live and deal with others around us.

Its really just like the the expectations for a job when we are in charge of something.
Keep learning by using all the tools and abilities given to you; 
Note your faults and admit them and try work to improve upon them; 
Be a good team player, considerate of others, respect the authority of those above you.
And, ultimately, represent the entity that you work for in a good and positive way.

One thing that we have to remember when we are in charge of ourselves is this -
we are the only person we can ever truly be in charge of totally.
We can’t be in charge of our spouse or family members or others.
Not in how they behave according to Jesus’ standards.
We can try to influence, and set an example for them, in hopes they do a good job.
But we can’t do the job for them and can’t be in charge of seeing that they do good.

Its really a big enough job just to be in charge of ourselves.
Because, truth be told, we don’t always wisely use the gifts and abilities God gave us.
We don’t always look to see, and admit, and improve upon, our flaws (called sins).
We don’t always respect the authority of the God above us.
We don’t always do a good job reflecting Jesus Christ in the world we walk in.

And yet,…..in spite of that,… it turns out, Jesus also tells us what he told Peter.
That we’re blessed (that is, loved and cared for by God) no matter how often we mess up.
And he tells us that evil around us will not overcome and ultimately defeat us.

So no matter what the challenges, we have help in the job being in charge of ourselves.
Help from Jesus in the God who loves us and cares for us and wants us to succeed.
And help against the forces that work to undermine our work of being in charge of ourselves.

Therefore, no matter how much or whenever we screw up at being in charge of ourselves,
we will not get fired or laid off or even demoted from God’s love and employ.
We cannot fail in this job because God continuously gives us second chances.
So chin up and do your best,…..and get back to work.