By Darren Lindblom, NavsMilitary — A few months ago I was speaking at a Navigator conference on the topic of Laboring For A Lifetime. I asked a group of 80+ men and women in their 20s this very question. I had just finished reading to them Matt 9:37-38 which, as you know, says:
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."
I was taken aback by their response. This group of 20-Something Navigators were gathered together for the purpose of spiritual growth and discipleship. Most were already involved in the lives of non-believers and young believers. After I asked this question only 8-10 of them raised their hands. Most of them were already personally ministering right where God had them. So what was the problem?
It was simply a matter of semantics. While most did not think of themselves as “laborers”, they did see themselves as disciplers, followers of Christ, etc… At the end of my message, I asked the same question and nearly all of them raised their hands. They came to understand that a “laborer” is a worthy descriptor of what we do as followers of Christ.
Recently I have been reflecting on this, and realize that the term “laborer” is a term not often used. It is rich with meaning for me, and I trust for you as well. It is a powerful and Biblical descriptor of who we are as Christ followers. I began considering other Biblical words that describe the great work to which we are called. Below are a few:
• Fishers of Men (Matt 4:19; Mark 1:17)
• Servants (John 12:26; Gal 1:10)
• Disciple-Makers (Matt 28:19-20; Acts 14:21)
• Followers of Christ (Mark 8:24; Matt 10:38)
• Ministers of Reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18-21)
• Witnesses (Acts 1:8; Acts 10:39)
• Spiritual Leader (1 Tim 3:1: Mark 10:42-45)
• Disciplers (Matt 28:19-20)
The bottom line: Over 2000 years ago, the Lord admonished His followers to pray for (and be) laborers/workers because the harvest was full, but the laborers were few. There were few then, and there are few today. The term or phrase we use is not as important as keeping the task in clear view. The Lord has entrusted to us the great privilege of advancing the Gospel and making disciples. Let us continue to trust Him to see the next generation of “laborers” raised up through our lives.
I have attached a Word Cloud graphic that expresses the various ways a “laborer” is described in Scripture. This captures a powerful picture. Take time to discuss this with those you are discipling and see how it impacts them.