To know Christ in my own life in ever increasing depth and to
make disciples AND DEVELOP LABORERS at all times under
any conditions in every place I go.
The statement above is the personal objective of the Kansas Navigator ministry teams. It emphasizes the need for a deep knowledge of the Lord and a commitment to his work. His desire for us is not only that we make disciples but that laborers are developed as well. At the end of the Lord’s ministry here on earth there were no doubt countless believers who had placed their trust in Him. I Corinthians 15:6 states that He additionally appeared to more than 500 disciples on one occasion. These were those who had the mark of discipleship as characterized by their love for one another (John 13:34-35), who had denied self, taken up the cross and followed Him (Luke 9:23), and who had continued in His word (John 8:31). But there was another category of people referred to in the Gospels as laborers (Luke 10:1-17). The Lord appointed these 72 individuals and sent them to tell others that the Kingdom of God was near. They were to be personally involved with others in their journey of faith leading to discipleship.
Disciples do not gradually evolve into laborers. It requires intentionality on the part of those helping others in this process as well as intentionality on the part of those who desire to be laborers. As the Lord calls us to work with others to a point where they are actively involved in the harvest, the most important thing to remember is prayer. Prayer is vital to the accomplishment of the Holy Spirit’s work in their lives. Prayer is needed that their eyes would be opened to see the needs of others, that their hearts would be opened with compassion, and that their mouths would be opened to speak the Lord’s words to others. Prayer is necessary in order that they would be faithful in interceding for others in prayer, faithful to initiate relationships, faithful to invite others to look at the scriptures, and faithful to invest their lives with those who come to faith in Christ.
If we desire that others become laborers, we must be laborers ourselves. They learn from observing our lives. They will model what we are. Our interaction with others will determine their interaction with those who follow. Learning to be a laborer is caught more than it is taught. We must model the pattern that we want them to follow.
For a person to be a laborer for Christ, it must be a priority in their lives. They cannot accomplish this work on the backstroke. It is not done with the leftovers of their lives. If one tries to fit this in their day after everything else is accomplished, it will not happen. If other lives are to be impacted for Christ, they must give Him the best of their day to accomplish this. By making this a priority in their lives they are “seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33) They will then discover that everything else they need will be given to them as well.
In addition to prayer for them, being a pattern to them, and helping them establish this as a priority in their lives, we need to provide opportunities for them to connect with others with whom they will be able to minister. Encouraging them to simply develop relationships with neighbors and co-workers will allow opportunities for ministry to develop. Asking them for their assistance in teaching, training, and some leadership responsibilities will produce other relationships that the Lord may use in their lives to promote their ministry to others. Jim Morris used to say that “everybody can help somebody.” The Lord is far more desirous of using their lives to impact others than the individuals are desirous of being used by Him. As we persist in prayer the Lord will, in His time, bring the people whom He desires to these individuals.
The task of helping others become laborers is a long process for some. It may take months, even years before their lives are being used to impact the lives of others. If we are to see the 4 generations of disciples as Paul describes to Timothy in II Timothy 2:2, this will require perseverance on our part. This is the perseverance referred to in Luke 8:15. “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”
It is very seldom that a person will continue to labor faithfully for the Kingdom on their own. We need partnerships with others who are likewise committed to being laborers for the Lord. In Luke 10, the Lord sent them out in groups of two. The Apostle Paul had small teams throughout the Roman Empire who worked together in communities, encouraging one another to be faithful to do that which the Lord had called them to do. We are called to partner with others as we labor for the Lord in His harvest field.
As we labor for others in His Kingdom we have the confidence that we are called into fellowship with Christ (I Corinthians 1:9). G. Campbell Morgan explains this word fellowship (Koinonia) as meaning that we have all things in common with our Lord. He uses the two words “resources” and “responsibilities” to describe the impact of this in our lives. In fellowship with Christ, then, all His resources are made available to me to meet my responsibilities. Likewise all my resources are to be made available to Him to meet His responsibilities. It is in this fellowship that we may have the confidence that His laborers are being developed through our lives.