Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered like sheep having no shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.
Matthew 9:35-38, NKJV
When discussing the measure of a kingdom, Pastor Calisto explained that the Kingdom of God and God’s influence is not limited to demography or geography. As we see in the Bible, Jesus proclaimed the Good News and healed diseases and infirmity in all the cities, villages and synagogues. His work was not limited to the synagogues. Similarly, as co-laborers with God, we should proclaim the Good News and minister healing not just within church buildings, but in our cities, villages, and workplaces.
A Professional in the Marketplace
Whenever I used to read this verse in Matthew, I dutifully asked God to send laborers. I prayed and gave generously towards ministries that increased the number of believers because in my mind, the solution was in numbers: the church and those in ministry are to lead people to Christ so we can have more people preaching the Good News. As a professional in the marketplace, I – myself, did not actively participate in the harvest. To me, my work was secular and my involvement in the church was spiritual. I worked to make a salary in order to support spiritual work.
Another way to put it is that I had adopted a dualistic view of Christianity; I was a part time Christian practicing my faith on the weekends. However, as ambassadors of Christ, Christians are always on duty. What does this look like? From Matthew 9:35-38, we learn that Jesus was moved with compassion for the throngs of people he met because they were weary, confused, aimless, harassed, distressed, dejected, helpless and scattered abroad like sheep without a shepherd. These adjectives are not limited to the people of Jesus’ day; they also describe the status of people at our workplaces.
Compassion and Action
I cannot help but recount the number of times I turned a blind eye to the plight of my colleagues. My mistake was that I did not see my job as my calling and my workplace as God’s field. This was also evident in my attitude towards my work: One day I was asked to give a five-minute exhortation in church. I remember spending hours praying and studying the Word of God. I prayed that the congregants would be ministered to. However, when it came to my job, I only managed a short one-minute prayer before going to work. I rarely prayed for my colleagues and never asked for a harvest of souls in my workplace. However, I can only imagine the kind of transformation that will occur if I approach work in the same manner as a church speaking engagement.
Convicted by the passage in Matthew 9:35-38, I conducted a heart check, reviewed my priorities, repented for my hardened heart, and prayed for realignment to God’s heart. An effective follower of Christ must be moved with compassion and as such, I prayed that He would give me compassion for my colleagues. This compassion is not just about the heart; it also demands actions. As such, my priority has shifted from working to finance ministries executed by others to me being the one to actively minister to my colleagues, pointing people to Christ.
Jesus asked his disciples to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send more workers into the field. God has answered this prayer! He has sent you and me into a myriad of sectors: into the fields of economics, education, politics, transportation, hospitality, media, entertainment, the arts, sciences, in the home, into church ministry, and so on... ALL these fields belong to Him! Out of compassion for those in our sphere of influence, He has specifically and intentionally placed you where you are to preach the good news and minister freedom.
So what do we do?
As professionals, we need to realize that we are full time Christians and co-laborers with Christ. – that our work is a calling and our workplace is a field with plentiful harvest. We need to understand that we are part of God’s Kingdom and we must submit to his agenda. When we consider our jobs, it should not only be about earning a good salary to live a comfortable lifestyle. Romans 14:15 states that the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit! Wherever we are, people should be set free and walk in right standing with God. However, this can only be made manifest if we change our attitudes towards work by praying and being led by the Holy Spirit. In doing so, we will become effective and fruitful laborers implementing Kingdom agenda.
Would you take a minute to consider the state of your heart? The harvest is plenty, but the workers are few.
Veronica is part of our first Nairobi Cohort. She works in administration at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). She studied Literature and Linguistics at the University of Nairobi Kikuyu campus and serves at her church in youth ministry, evangelism and discipleship. Veronica promotes marketplace ministries and shares the Gospel, particularly among women and the youth.