SUNDAY, JUNE 10, 2012
CHALLENGES TO RAISING EFFECTIVE LABOURERS
‘The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few.’ (Mtt. 9v37)
HARVEST, for a farmer, is usually a time of joy, singing and thanksgiving. For Jesus, however, it echoes disappointment because the ministry today is bored, suffering from a burn out or simply not harvesting.
Jesus showed his disciples the work ahead and made it clear that willing labourers are needed for the kingdom. Persons invited for harvest must be willing to roll up their sleeves and make sacrifices so that they can joyfully engage in harvesting for the kingdom.
Effective labourers are needed. These must be productive, active, serious-minded, result-oriented and goal-oriented labourers especially in the 21st Century, a high-tech time where things are going digital including communication of gospel truth.
Let us consider some challenges to raising effective labourers in the 21st Century:
Paper qualification is good. But are we to depend solely on this? For the apostles, qualification for ministry included: ‘those to be chosen must be full of the Holy Spirit (Zech. 4v6). They must be full of wisdom (and) they must have a good reputation’. (Act 6v3) ‘For when integrity is lost, all is lost’. Persons who offer themselves for the work of ministry must be BORN AGAIN Christians (Jn. 3v7). They must have renounced their sins; they must have been washed in the blood of the lamb and must have accepted Jesus as Lord and personal saviour.
Unfortunately, most labourers don’t have the above qualifications or testimony to back up their claims. Hence, we have unproductiveness in the field.
The word of God says: ‘Study to show thyself an approved worker, who is not ashamed of himself but rightly divides the word of God’ (2 Tim. 2v15). How many labourers wish to grow, contribute to the harvest and at the same time are willing to subject themselves to training? Short courses, seminars conferences and workshops equip a person for effectiveness on the job. Seminars on how to handle children’s ministry; church planting; witness to the dying, bereaved or sick people, and deliverance are important.
As a labourer, when last did you attend a workshop, seminar or conference? Remember this is the 21st Century. Knowledge gets obsolete easily. Unless you update it, you could become like Eli and God would prefer to deal with a ‘young Samuel’.
We live in a world of change. It is only God that does not change. Remember that variety is the spice of life. A labourer should be creative and innovative on the mission field. The story Jesus told about the loaned money in Mtt. 25v14-29 should be an eye opener to us.
Some workers are in difficult situations, facing harsh cultures, false brethren, witches, wizards etc. Motivation may not necessarily be monetary. Words of encouragement would equally suffice. Other forms of motivation are public commendation, offers of prayer and attendance to domestic problems (Mtt. 9v35-36, Acts 2v45).
(Lk. 16v13, I Jn. 2v15-17, I Tim. 6v9-10) The rate at which many labourers crave for the things of the world is alarming. People do not emphasise godliness and contentment any longer (I Tim. 6v6). As long as labourers show extraordinary interest in mammon and pleasure, their output would remain poor. I pray for a new crop of labourers with integrity like St. Paul who said: ‘I am not a burden to anyone; these my hands provided for my needs’.
Demonic, Occult Influences
We are not unmindful of these influences. (Eph. 6v12) Demons and occult influences are very real. We face a powerful army whose goal is to defeat Christ’s Church. When we believe in Christ, these beings become our enemies and they try every device to turn us away from Him and back to sin. It is unfortunate that many have fallen from the faith and some have already been captured. Demon and occult influences are real. If we must raise effective labourers for God’s vineyard, we must avoid Satan’s enticing gifts. Gifts from the pit of hell reduce spirituality and drive one further away from faith.
The challenges above are not insurmountable. What is needed today are men and women that are willing to roll up their sleeves and make sacrifices so that they can joyfully engage in harvesting for God’s kingdom.VEN. ERNEST ONUOHA Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Retreat Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.