In 1 Nephi Chapter 17, Nephi is commanded to go up into a mountain and once there is told to build a ship. Keep in mind, Nephi is not a sailor or a boatmaker. He has had no experience building even a canoe, much less a ship that's capable of crossing an ocean.
His response to this challenge made me think about the "ships" I have needed to build in my life. Obviously I'm not talking about a real ship. I'm talking about those challenges that I've faced that have been out of the ordinary, unfamiliar, even downright scary. Often the challenge has been given to me to get me across a "sea"- seas of doubt, feelings of being incapable, or the need to be more selfless. I'm grateful for the example of a faithful prophet to show me a righteous response to commandments that may otherwise seem overwhelming.
What strikes me first about Nephi's example is that:
1) He was listening to the Lord. This wasn't an out of the blue experience for him to be told to get up into a mountain to commune with the Lord- he was in constant communication with Him and was able to recognize and respond to the Lord's request.
2) He went up into the mountain, into a quiet and private place where he would be able to hear the Lord without distractions.
3) When he was told to build a ship, he didn't respond with doubt, he didn't whine or complain. He just accepted the directive and started thinking through what would need to be done to accomplish it.
4) He didn't accept the assignment and then go off and try to use his own intelligence, knowledge, or pride to try to construct a ship to the best of his ability. He immediately turned to the Lord for answers to his questions and for direction on how to proceed. He knew he needed the Lord's help and that the ship would be strong and safe if He built it the Lord's way.
5) He didn't let others' doubts and harassment stop or even slow down his progress. Instead, he responded with faith by reminding them of everything that God had already done for them and for others, and tried to strengthen their faith and help them to respond with trust and willingness.
6) He worked hard. He didn't expect the Lord to send down pre-made tools or other helps. He thought about what needed to be done, asked the Lord for guidance and help, and then went to work.
Contrast this with how I often respond to something the Lord has asked me to do:
1) I try to find distractions to keep my mind off the challenge.
2) I doubt my ability, let my fears take over, whine and complain ("it's not fair!") and take awhile to get to the point of accepting and moving forward.
3) I start to think of ways I can do it. I forget that it's only with the Lord's help that I'm able to overcome the challenge, and definitely the only way that I will excel at it.
4) I give too much thought to what others will think of me. I wonder if I'll be judged or criticized, and worry about looking stupid or inept.
5) I try to work hard, but often get exhausted and look for ways to diminish some of the work.
I could make excuses and say "well, I'm not a prophet and I'm not a strong and confident person like Nephi was", but I don't think the Lord would accept that. No, I'm not a Nephi, and I don't expect to live up to his incredible example, but I'm also not being asked to leave my home, travel through the wilderness for years, build a ship, cross an ocean, and be split from my brothers because they're trying to kill me. So if I'm asked to face my own challenge (that may, in my mind, seem as big as one of these) I have to remind myself that there are much bigger challenges I could be facing, and I have great examples of how to respond and how to overcome.