How to have a fire set underneath you in ministry

I’m here today because of an answered prayer. I never had an opportunity to meet my great-great-grandmother, but my aunts would tell me about how she would always pray for her children and children’s children to be mightily used by the Lord.

You also are an answer to someone’s prayer, someone who was being obedient to Jesus’ command in Matthew 9:35-38 to pray for God to send workers into the harvest. In this same passage, He models for us what that kind of ministry should look like. Here are some thoughts we can take into our own ministry.

1. Be available.

Matthew 9:35 tells us that Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom. You can’t miss this when you read the gospels — He was led by the Father, and He was available.

To be honest, it’s so easy to be in ministry and not be available. Sometimes, it’s actually a noble, good thing we’re doing, like preparing to preach the Word. You want to make certain you carve out and guard that time to preach the Word. But sometimes, the Spirit could be tapping on your shoulder saying, “Brother, I need you to just pause right now because there’s some people on the other side of your office who are hurting that I need you to be available for.”

The danger, the tension we feel is that sometimes we could be in ministry and still not be available for God’s use. We must examine our lives and constantly carve out those moments to ask ourselves, “Am I available?”

2. Guard your compassion.

In Matthew 9:36, we see that Jesus saw the people and “felt compassion for them because they were distressed and dispirited, like sheep without a shepherd.”

In retelling how Jesus lived and walked the earth, Matthew says it was different — there was something different about his compassion. He was moved. That word — it gives us a picture of one who’s almost heartbroken. He felt that in his belly, His gut. He was deeply troubled by what He saw.

When was the last time you were deeply troubled? Not because your budget didn’t line up, not because the ministries around you were growing, but because you saw the brokenness in your community. You saw the hurt of the people God has called you to shepherd.

3. Focus on opportunities.

In Matthew 9:37, Jesus tells us the problem isn’t with the harvest — the problem is that the workers are so few. In church planting or pastoring, we have a tendency to exchange war stories. Everybody thinks their context is the hardest. We’re good storytellers, but the problem is — are we telling the right story? You see, we are already working from victory, not for victory, and we have to remind ourselves of that.

We have to remind ourselves too that just as life transformation once happened for us, it can also happen for them. It’s easy to see opportunity when you know you were once the problem. It’s easy to see that no matter how broken the situation looks, no matter how desperate it appears to be, we once were there too. In Romans, Paul says that when you wanted nothing to do with God, God wanted everything to do with you. He was pursuing you. He is pursuing others too.

4. Beg often.

After Jesus points out the problem of too few workers for the harvest, He commands His disciples to “beseech” the Lord to send out workers. “Beseech” means to ask urgently and fervently for something. It is a cry of desperation.

We ask God for a lot of things, but when is the last time you begged him to save your neighbor? When is the last time you fervently begged him to raise up and transform the life of that man and woman in your congregation who look so far away from the Lord?

Jesus told His disciples that He saw the crowd differently than they did. He saw opportunities. And He told them to pray fervently for God to thrust them and others into the harvest. That word “send out,” translated “thrust out,” can even refer to workers already in the field who need to have a fire lit under them to thrust them out of their comforts into the world of need. Pray that there will be a fire set underneath you and others.

Published May 12, 2021