God's HR Department

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It’s a familiar cry. Few organizations have a excess of volunteers to accomplish all that needs to be done. The church is no exception. There is always more work than there are people to do that work. There are always plans that remain on the drawing board because there are no human resources to take that plan and make it happen.

The story was the same in Jesus’ day. As He looked at the people around Him, He recognized the problem. He described them as “sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). The first question we might ask is why He didn’t do something about that. He was God. He was the Great Shepherd. He could fix it. But He didn’t. Instead He gave this instruction to His followers:

The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (9:37b, 38).

It’s an odd request. He could have fixed the problem, but didn’t. Then He asked His disciples to pray to “the Lord of the harvest” about the situation. Who was this “Lord of the harvest?" He was! There was a fix for the lost and dying world and He would fix it, but He would do it through the prayers and participation of His people.

Sometimes it’s easier in ministry to do things yourself rather than try to recruit someone else and then wait for that person to get the job done. For Jesus it would have been easy to solve the problem of a bunch of lost human sheep. He could have done it Himself and done a far better job than the clumsy, untrained, and flawed bunch of men who were following Him.

But like the good leader He was, Jesus knew that one day the responsibility of the fledgling church would fall on the shoulders of these clumsy, flawed men—and others like them—because He wouldn’t be there to personally take charge. So He put them to work on the project, first of all to pray because they would be dependent on God for the answers to the requests they were making. And when those human resources were provided, they all would be dependent on God for the harvest that they would together seek to gather for His glory.

But it would all start with prayer. I don’t remember the last time we prayed for workers to fill  the gaps in our church programming, do you? We make appeals from the pulpits, advertise in the bulletin, and strong-arm people into serving; and then wonder why those methods, and others, don’t seem to work very well.

Perhaps it’s time to pray and let the Lord choose.

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