Turning on the evening news one night, several troubling headlines greeted me, two murders and assault and an update and the vaccines related to COVID-19, all within a half-hour program. “It's all so much,” I turned to my husband. This world has so much trouble.
Additionally, mental health issues are on the rise, and suicide rates have skyrocketed since the pandemic. What do we do when the world seems so hopeless?
As Christians, it is especially difficult to know how our church can meet the needs of those around us, especially when there are so many needs.
The good news is that Jesus knows every need before we do and will provide the people with compassionate hearts for us to invest in so they make an impact on our community.
Jesus also understood what it was like to be overwhelmed by the needs that were set before him. Matthew 6:36-38 says, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Culturally, sheep can easily go astray if not led by a trained professional. Shepherds help keep sheep in the right direction. It is imperative now more than ever to equip the church to be disciples who make disciples.
It is not enough to simply run programs and fill people's heads with knowledge. It is necessary to teach others how to disciple others so they can meet the needs of the harvest around them.
Not Everyone Is Planted in Good Soil
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop — a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear” (Matthew 13:3-9).
It is important that we ask the Lord of the harvest. He knows the hearts of those people who worship with us on Sunday morning. Simply because someone has good church attendance doesn’t mean they are fit for leadership.
We need to ask the Lord to reveal the people who are worth the investment. As a pastor’s wife, we have invested in many people who we thought, based on outward appearances, were fit for leadership.
However, when conflict arose or it came time to invest in them, they fell away and left the church. We didn’t know it at the time, but they weren’t fit for leadership. We assumed that everyone who attended church was worth the effort.
The Lord promises there are unbelievers ready to hear the gospel message. They will be ripe for salvation, but it is too much for one person to do on his/her own.
By asking the Lord in whom he wants us to invest our time and resources, we will find we are doing the work of equipping God’s people for the harvest with ease.
Jesus Did Only What the Father Wanted Him to Do
In John 5, Jesus told the people what his purpose was on earth: “Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
Jesus did what the father wanted him to do. He went where his father told him to go. He invested in the people God wanted him to invest in. Jesus did nothing without seeking his father’s will. But so often, we seek to do things out of our pride or ability.
Believing we can discern God’s will without asking God what his will is can end up in frustration, wasting precious time on those not suited for discipleship. Once we seek the Lord’s direction, how do we know with whom to spend our time?
Invest in Planting in the Good Soil
People who are good soil are those that not only seek to make a difference in the lives of those around them but also have a vibrant personal time with the Lord. Ask the person whom you choose to disciple the following questions:
- What do you do on a weekly basis to spend time with God?
- In what ways do you seek the Lord’s direction or hear from him?
- How do you believe God is directing you in this season of your life?
Continue to seek the Lord’s will while discovering whom to disciple. Pinpoint the people who are hungry for intimacy with Jesus, and more than likely, you will find the right fit for discipleship.
Send Them Out into the World
Jesus’ ministry was not only about investing in and teaching his disciples but also sending them out. In the Matthew passage, not only are we to ask the Lord of the harvest but also send them out to reap the harvest in the field.
The discipleship process should not be long in duration. After a year has passed, evaluate where the person you're discipling is on his/her journey. Prepare them to “reap the harvest” by praying regularly for the people in their lives in their workplaces, neighborhoods, and places they frequent.
This will give the disciple not only the heart of compassion that Jesus had for the people but also eyes and ears in tune with what God is doing in their lives. Teach them to go out into the field by getting to know the people around them with no strings attached.
In this post-Christian world, people do not want another sermon, they want to know we care. Prepare those in your care to ask good questions when appropriate and practice active listening by repeating back what the person is saying.
Commit those people to prayer and encourage your disciple to pray for them regularly in their private prayer time. In time, this will become a habit of good soil, which then reaps a harvest because of their character, perseverance, and compassion for those around them.
What Does This Mean?
Making disciples can be difficult and exhausting. But when we move people from head knowledge to an intimate knowledge of God, you will make a habit of sending people into the field, and they will reap a harvest not only felt here on earth but also in heaven as well.
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Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
These verses serve as a source of renewal for the mind and restoration for the heart by reinforcing the notion that, while human weakness is inevitable, God's strength is always available to uplift, guide, and empower us.
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