Sheep without a Shepherd

I can easily recall hearing the phrase, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." many times in my life. While reading Matthew 9:35-38 (NIV), I realized what Jesus actually meant in context.
Matthew 9:35 NIV
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.
Jesus was doing the work of the ministry by himself.
Matthew 9:36 NIV
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
However the needs of the people were too overwhelming for just one person. Jesus looked at a crowd of misguided Israelites as if they were sheep without a shepherd. Literally this means He saw them as people without a pastor. The word pastor means one who "takes to pasture" and implies safely leading and feeding. These were misguided people without a leader. Jesus recognized that His influence was limited and that the crowd needed leaders beyond himself.
Matthew 9:37 NIV
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.
It is after Jesus sees that the crowd needs pastoral leaders that he mentions this famous line. This is Jesus bringing revelation to the spiritual leadership dilemma that still goes on today. There are crowds of sheep without personal guidance. They aren't necessarily unbelievers. They just need someone to give them direction and to get involved.
Matthew 9:38 NIV
Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
The answer to the dilemma according to Jesus is to ask God to send out workers (pastoral leaders) into his harvest field. In other words, pray for new leaders. As we look at the massive needs of our community, we realize how overwhelming it all can be. However before we can worry about the needs of our community, we must first see the great needs of our own "crowd." The reality is that our church already has a massive crowd of people who all need pastoral leadership and guidance to become complete in Christ. Just as Jesus told His disciples, we must pray for new leaders who see the mission of making disciples as their responsibility.

What happens next is really what got me.
Matthew 10:1-6 NIV
Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.
Jesus didn't just stop at the teaching moment by asking them to pray. Instead Jesus brings them in close to Him and gives them instructions on what to do next. Jesus gives them His authority making them leaders and calling them "apostles" (sent ones). Then He intentionally sends His closest disciples to "the lost sheep of Israel." Jesus spent time with his disciples pastoring them. Now He sends them out as pastors to the "crowd." Later the focus of the ministry reaches out to evangelize the Samaritans and Gentiles, but first Jesus focuses on developing leaders who are disciple making disciples.

I believe there is a pattern here that we can often hurry past in order to "reap the harvest." Let's not forget that while the world harvest is plentiful, we have a harvest in our backyards that often goes to waste.

With that said, let me encourage you as a leader to be a disciple maker. Let me further encourage you to be a leader maker. The harvest needs these "harvest workers" or leaders who make fully committed followers of Christ. Let's multiply our discipleship making effectiveness by being leader makers.

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