“And he said to them, ‘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.’” Luke 10:2
A farmer feels the reality of a lack of laborers frequently—when harvest is coming, the prospect of going at it alone is unthinkable. One farmer harvesting hundreds of acres alone is not possible. He needs help. He needs a team. He needs additional farmers to bring in the full harvest, and to fully realize the fruit of his yearlong labors. A good farmer doesn’t waste the grain. He doesn’t leave the fruit on the tree. Without help, the fruit that is before him is meaningless and will quickly die.
The problem with abundance
If you’ve ever led anything in church, this is likely a familiar feeling to you as well. We have immense opportunity and fruit before us in the gospel, but as church leaders in an organization that is primarily fueled by more and more volunteers, we feel the weight of responsibility upon us, and the burden of not having the right people in the right places. We need volunteers, and when they are not there we deeply feel that lack of volunteers and loss of fruit. We also need leaders, and when they are not there we feel the weight of lack of direction, focus, and clarity.
Our problem, however, is not when there is a lack of laborers—it is when there is an abundance of harvest. In fact, on our own, the harvest is overwhelming. There are that many people to save.
Our problem is not that workers are few, but that we have not asked for more. Our teams are recruiting well, raising up new men and women to serve. The teams work so well, in fact, that they reap a good harvest, which means we need more labors to love and serve, and the process continues. We have excess and abundance of harvest, but we need to grow in commissioning those who’ve been harvest to become laborers. And we need to commission colaborers to leadership.
There is danger when we look out at an abundant harvest, and wrongly tell ourselves, “Someone else will do the job.” It takes a right understanding of biblical leadership and servanthood to see that there is a call on every Christian to come and toil for the gospel. Jesus has assured us that there will always be more harvest than there are laborers—so this takes every Christian brother and sister. As long as there are people to save, our church will never have “too many” servants.
The answer in prayer
Jesus’ answer to finding more laborers for the harvest isn’t merely recruitment (though that is needed). It’s not just good communication (also important) or good processes (essential). Instead, Jesus begins with prayer.
Even though it seems simple, the most essential action we can take in finding more laborers for the harvest that Jesus has called us to is to fall into deeper dependence on him in prayer. In prayer—and as Jesus says, it is earnest prayer—we become attuned to his desires. We see wildly qualified volunteers get practically dropped in our laps. We see leaders rise up we would have never have considered. We see potential fruit in areas that we had thought would go to rot. Jesus flips all the paradigms, and he does so through prayer by the power of his Holy Spirit.
As we continue in preparation for future growth, future fruit, and tremendous waves of the grace of God, let’s remember to start with prayer. The best place to begin is in humble dependence upon Jesus. After all, it’s not our harvest, but his.
Today, through prayer, ask Jesus who he wants you to ask to come alongside you to labor in the harvest.