Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” Matthew 9:35-39
People were drawn to the Jesus and the gospel, but there were not laborers to shepherd them. Sheep without a shepherd are prey to many things. I read a book on Psalms 23 about four months back that discusses the many pitfall of sheep without a shepherd. I never realized how much care they need. Some of the things that I remember are they easily go astray because they follow others, they are stubborn, and they are easily distracted. They will also tend to stay in a place to long and starve because they eat up everything. They also need special tending to because it is easy to get stuck upside down if their coats get to heavy. And they are prone to infestations. No wonder God calls us His sheep. And no wonder Jesus was so concerned about all these people following Him and learning but not having a shepherd to tend to their regular needs.
As I read this passage I pictured a surgery. I have never been in surgery, so I sought out a friend who worked in surgery. I asked her who all was in the surgery room, and I was actually surprised by how many people are needed. As we talked a student who is training to be a scrub tech joined our conversation.
The members of the team include the surgeon, the CRNA, the scrub tech, the circulator as members of every team. They surgeon is the doctor performing the procedure. She mentioned Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) minister anesthesia and other medications. They also monitor patients who are receiving and later recovering from anesthesia. The scrub tech or surgical technician, possess knowledge and skills in sterile and aseptic techniques. There is typically two but sometimes three of these in the surgery room. The circulator is a registered nurse who makes preparations for an operation and continually monitors the patient and staff during its course. The circulator works in the operating room outside the sterile field in which the operation takes place. They record the progress of the operation, accounts for the instruments, and handles specimens. The young man that had joined into our conversation added that the patient is also in the room.
Some surgeries require a surgeon assistant also if they are more complex. She also said depending on the type of surgery there are team members from the company that makes the implant, or that makes a certain machine that is used in the surgery. The company or implant reps are there in case there are any issues with the implant or equipment that is made by their company to problem solve.
Of course there is also the people who clean up the room after the surgery. And there are the people who order the supplies needed for surgery. There are also people who check in the patient, and those who attend to the family while the patient is in surgery. There are those who work with the insurance to make sure that the patient does not pay more than they have to for the care. And then the people who take care of the patient after surgery. These may be minor parts, but they are pivotal in the experience of the patient as they prepare for and recover from surgery.
In surgery, we see that we would not just want a surgeon in the room. Although we know the surgeon is necessary, it is easy to see the surgeon can not do it all. Yet in the church we often see the pastor as the surgeon. He is the one big part that everyone depends on and there is an expectation that he can and will do it all.
As I thought more about it, the surgery is not about the surgeon. It is about the person that is being operated on. The Kingdom work is not about the pastor, it is about God. The pastor may represent the surgeon, but the laborers are all working together to meet the will of God – the harvest.
The pastor may be the shepherd, but the laborers are needed for the harvest. We each have a part to play in the harvest. Each person doing their part to the best of their empowered ability is what is needed. The roles may look different, but each person is needed. The pastor, just like the others people in the “Five-fold ministry” are given as gifts by Christ to equip the church for the harvest.
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-12
Jesus said “Pray for more laborers.” He didn’t say “pray for more shepherds or pastors.” There needs to be more people who are sharing the gospel. There needs to be more laborers doing God’s work – sharing the gospel. There needs to be more laborers building up the church – meeting the tangible needs that keep people from true wholeness. There needs to be more laborers building up discipling and encouraging each other in the Lord. We are called to follow Christ’s example, preaching the gospel, ministering to the needs of the people in compassion, and building up the body of Christ. Everyone is needed and everyone has a part to play.
I will end this with a powerful quote from MarianneWilliamson’s book A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Lord I pray for more laborers for your Kingdom. I pray that each person that calls you Lord will do their part. In Jesus name and all for Your glory! Amen.