Today we’re reading Matthew chapter 9.
Jesus accomplished a remarkable amount in just 3 and a half years of ministry. Not only did he save the human race from eternal destruction, he left behind a committed group of people to spread that message around the world. In addition, he taught truth in memorable ways so that both his words and his methods of instruction are still studied today.
A man like this must have worked a hundred hours a week or more, right? Maybe. The gospel writers certainly didn’t tell us that Jesus took vacations. But he lived in an age before machines, so he didn’t ride a plane, a train, or an automobile. Instead, he walked everywhere he went. You and I would consider that a waste of time, but that’s what he did. Jesus also lived before electric power so the things he did happened mainly from sunrise to sunset. This means that he took time to rest on a daily basis.
Going further, we never read of Christ being in a rush. He was always on the move, but never in a hurry. Although he was aware of the time of his death, he never worried about the clock running out before he accomplished what he needed to do. Yet he was aware of the great needs around him. As we read today in verses 35-36, Jesus busily taught and healed but there were so many people with needs and Christ “had compassion on them” (v. 36). What was his reaction to this? It had two aspects.
First, Christ called the disciples to pray (v. 38a). Instead of thinking that he had too much to accomplish to spend time praying, he himself withdrew frequently to pray and he called on the disciples to pray in response to the great needs he saw around him.
Second, Christ prayed for workers (v. 38b). His solution to the vast needs around him was not to work more or pick up the pace of his labor but to ask God to multiply the number of laborers. This is wise. Who can accomplish more–10 men working 50 hours a week or 500 men working 10 hours a week? The math is easy; multiplying workers is far more efficient and effective than working longer at a frantic pace.
Like everything Jesus did, we would be wise to follow his example. When we’re too busy to pray, we’re doing it wrong. When we try to get more done by working more hours at a breakneck pace, we’re doing it wrong. This is true in all of life but especially and more importantly in ministry. Wherever you’re serving the Lord, if you feel overworked and burdened by God’s work, it’s time to start asking God for helpers. Then, when he provides them, take time to train them well then use them wherever they can make the greatest impact for God’s work.
This is my mission for 2017 as your pastor: to do less ministry myself and more praying for and training God’s people. Want in? I’ll be talking more about this soon….