As noted in our last blog, living by earthly measures of success is “sinking sand”. No one can sustain the type of ministry Rescue 1 does for the long-term with their eyes always on themselves, wondering about their “impact”. Those that we serve are in deep, deep bondage. It is a trap to look to our own feats to measure impact. We must look to His Word, Life, and Cross to find the Kingdom’s measure of impact. We often write books about great missionary men and women of the past. These books follow their life’s story and try to take account of the impact of the person on a time period or a continent. Names like David Livingston, Gladys Aylward, Amy Carmichael, Hudson Taylor, and George Mueller all flood into my mind. Yet, none of those people ever thought a book would be written about them. Many came home from the field for periods of time in depression. All suffered loss. All suffered. George Mueller initially just did very simple things like feeding orphans breakfast. Do you think all the lives of the orphans he touched ended well? Scores did not. George’s story is so fantastic not because of the few orphanages he built in one area of England, but because of his incredible faithfulness to God and His Word. George Mueller’s (as well as all the rest I’ve named) impact can only be measured by asking, “Was he or she faithful?”
We are often obsessed with leadership culture in the modern American Church. Yet I never heard of a saint of the Lord in any other time period fret over leaders. They always fretted over laborers. And rightly so, because our Lord said that is was laborers that the Kingdom needed.
35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
What is so interesting about this passage to me is what precedes it. Jesus has been in an extended conflict with the leaders of Israel. At the beginning of chapter 9 they accuse Him of blaspheme when He forgives the paralytic. Then they question why He is eating with tax collectors and sinners. Even the disciples of John get in on the act and start questioning why Jesus doesn’t live as rigorously as they do. They believe He should fast more often. Finally, the Pharisees just out and out say, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.” (9:34) It is on the heels of this event that Jesus calls for the disciples to “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” He did not say pray that the Lord of the harvest would send leaders, but that the Lord of the harvest would send laborers.
Laborers are non-land owning paid daily workers that hung out in the market place waiting to be hired. (See Matthew 20:1-16 to see how labor markets worked in Jesus day) They were, in general, poor people that had one pair of shoes, very little in their wallet, and depended on others for hospitality often to just survive. These facts should not be over-looked. For after Jesus names 5 nobodies, 4 fishermen (Peter, Andrew, James, and John), a terrorist (Simon the Zealot), a Jewish traitor (Matthew), and a fraud (Judas Iscariot) to His core team (an event that is laughable by the way; I mean, if you could build a team to upend the world, is this what your team would look like?) this is how He sends them out.
9 Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food.
The truth is, it is not our money or our ability to make wise preparations that makes us useful to Jesus. He also forbids them to receive money either from those they are able to help, “You received without paying; give without pay.” (10:8b) Their willingness to go without ready at hand material resources and without a desire to profit from their work was enough to make them useful for the Kingdom’s sake. And that is all we are asked to be as well.
We are to seek to be laborers, not necessarily leaders. I am not against leaders. I just think we over-hype leadership principles in order to grow churches that meet the American models of success and impact. But our impact metric is Faithfulness to His Word, not attendance and dollar amounts. It is and can be our only true measure. (See Part 1) But a willingness to go before we know where all the material resources are going to come from, and without a motive to profit, is the key that allows us to get moving in ministry to those in need. Because it’ll take more resources than you can imagine to do the work, and you’ll just get bogged down in the details if you wait for resources. But there can also be no profit gained from it or we will have no future reward from the Lord for our service to Him. There are many people waiting on the sidelines for all the stars to align and for all the bank accounts to be full before they jump into the deep end of Christian service. Don’t be one of them. There are many who serve for the honor and glory that can be gained through it. Don’t be one of them either.
Questions for Meditation
Are you the type of person that has to have all the answers before you can proceed on a project? Has this been a hindrance to you either starting a ministry or starting to serve in one?
Are you actively serving Jesus with your time and talents, or are you frozen in the “how” or “who” you should minister to?
If you are frozen, does it have anything to do with wondering where the resources will come from?
Are you waiting for a specific word from God concerning what ministry you should serve in, when often these answers come in the “doing” rather than, in the “waiting”?
Do you tend to serve in ministries where recognition or reputation can be gained? Is God calling you to something where you can fulfill the Word, “you received without paying; give without pay”?
VP of Prevention
Rescue 1 Global