…but the workers are few. Luke 10:2 NIV
In this instance, Jesus is using a farming metaphor to talk about his mission – which he has given us plenty of evidence to support the assumption that he is very focused on accomplishing. Why are the workers so scarce?
#1. The work is so darn hard.
I hate it when strangers ask me what I do for work. I do not have a decent elevator speech for saying, “My work is to support my tribe.” That answer, though true, makes it sound like I am a kook. I’ve decided it is better to sound crazy than to be specific. If I tell people I co-pastor a recovery church and serve as Executive Director of this thing called, “National Association for Christian Recovery” – instead of a tilted head and confused stare, I get a look I totally recognize: pity. Usually people say, “Ugh, that sounds so hard.”
And I never, ever have the guts to tell the truth back, “It is hard! But it is the work! Why AREN’T you doing hard work?” See, I cannot say this because it is all judgy and unpastorial. And wrong. But sometimes I think it. Jesus teaches one principle, one thing that helps us evaluate our work in Luke 10: go work in a risky field. Go do hard work. It’s crunch time. Much is at stake. Get to it. Support your tribe.
What is the tribe? It is the community we sit in and among and allow our roots to grow deep.
And here is the beautiful bigger truth: A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE DOING THE HARD WORK AND DO NOT EVEN KNOW IT!
You don’t have to be a pastor of an at-risk, marginalized people to do hard work. Here are some other ways we as a people work hard: we work hard when we focus on growing up children who are more prepared to be decent human beings than they necessarily are able to score high on their SATs, we work hard when we treat our sick and dying with respect and loving care, we work hard when we are patient with ourselves, our families, our enemies…EVEN when we are on our last nerve. We work hard when we respect and wish people well (safely and sometimes from a great distance) who do not wish the same for us, we work hard when we stand up for the abused, the unpopular, the bullied and the weirdos among us. We work hard when we refuse to blend in if the effort that requires results in the loss of our own unique God-given weirdness. See? Here’s the thing – all of us are qualified to do the hard work regardless of our job title. And we need to get busy affirming this work when we see it in one another. So today, if you are one of those weirdos who refuses to get impatient with bad drives, cheers to you! If you choose to treat the barista at your local coffee shop with the same respect you would show you favorite political candidate – cheers to you! If you love your enemy – even if you have to wear a Kevlar vest to do so – cheers to you! You ARE the worker. And if we keep building on this foundation, we’re going to be ok.