“Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Matt.9:37,38
It’s amazing, after 2000 years, some things haven’t changed. The same need Jesus saw as He looked out upon the multitudes who followed Him still exists today. Not enough workers to bring in the harvest.
Now, if I am a farmer during harvest season, I understand the urgency of reaping when the harvest is ripe. It is priority number one. Expect long hours, hard work, all hands on deck, until the crop is brought into the barn. It’s time for rest only when the work is done. Of course, Jesus was not speaking of reaping a natural crop. He was speaking of people, scattered like sheep without a shepherd. Another thing that hasn’t changed much in two thousand years: the harvest of souls is still ripe and ready to be gathered.
Somewhere back in the past half century, those who are supposed to know have diagnosed the church’s problem as a crisis of leadership: we need more and better leaders. What has followed is a tsunami of leadership teaching in every form imaginable. Yet, Jesus never once commissioned us to recruit and prepare leaders. He was busy disciplining followers, preparing WORKERS and sending them out. When His WORK was done He didn’t hand out titles or assign positions. He commissioned a work. Their work was to witness to the ends of the earth.
Personally, I have become frustrated with the over-emphasis on “Leadership” in the church when there remains such a dearth of workers. Typically, we put people on the growth track as new converts, fast track them to positions of leadership and leave out the worker phase of growth. It’s like pushing a infant through childhood, past adolescence into mature adults. The spiritual progression is to be established as a disciple, equipped as a workers, and sent into the world. Not once are we told to aspire to leadership. As one author comments, “Leadership has led us to the place where everybody is trying to get everybody else to do something, and no one ends up doing anything.” There needs to be a shift back to the noble calling of Laborer and the honorable task of work.
If we are to participate in the great harvest of souls before the return of Christ then many workers must be prepared for all manner of work in all kinds of places. It is to be expected that most of the work of ministry will be done out in the world and not just within the confines of the church. That’s where we will find the lost, broken, and scattered lives. And we shouldn’t expect them to naturally find their way into church.
The chief responsibility of those with “ministry gifts” is to equip (prepare) workers. This is made clear in Ephesians 4. The Greek word, equip (katartizo) means, “to make someone adequate or sufficient for a purpose.” No one is left out. We are all to be prepared for the purpose of work. Equipping one for work is more than providing tools like bible education, the baptism in the Holy Ghost, spiritual disciplines, building character, and influencing attitudes.
Here are several important points on how to prepare others for the work of serving.
- Establish an Identity
We are first followers of Christ. I am also God’s own child; a Witness, a Sent One; a Doulos (slave) and a Worker. Work is not just something I do in the Kingdom, a Worker is who I am.
- Impart a Mission
Equipping is imparting a vision that is greater than me, my survival and my own personal fulfillment. I work for the common good; for the benefit of others.
- Convey the Message
A worker must understand the gospel message. S\he is a minister of reconciliation. Every worker approved by God, knows how to share the good news and lead others to Christ.
- Discover God’s Gift (in me)
God has started the equipping process before we are born into this world. He calls us according to His purpose and qualifies us with gifts to serve others. Work is not just a job – it is a calling.
- Identify Opportunities to use your gift in the church and in the world.
Scripture tells us, AS (not IF) we have opportunity, let us do good… We all have a chance to work in the Kingdom and produce fruit. Helping others see people as opportunity is part of the equipping process.
Let us pray now, more than ever, to the Lord of Harvest, and ask Him to send WORKERS into His harvest. And as we pray, let’s add, “Here I am, Lord. Send me!
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed…” 2 Timothy 2:15