Friday, workers in and for the harvest
Acts 13:2-3 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.”
I was excited (but not surprised) to learn that the 2017 NFL Draft number 1 overall pick is from my alma mater, Texas A&M. Defensive end Myles Garrett was drafted by the Cleveland Browns, a team that needs help. The franchise hasn’t been in the playoffs since the 2002-2003 season and ended 2016 with a 1-15 record.
The Browns aren’t strangers to the underdog role. I was recently watching Draft Day, a movie about the 12 hours prior to the first day of the 2014 NFL draft. I felt like I was watching a “behind the scenes” reenactment of how this season might have gone down.
In both the movie and in real life, much is made over the qualifications of those selected. Attempts are made to assess potential performance – NFL Scouting Combine, university pro days, the Draft Advisory Board, just to name a few. And as you would expect, prior performance is scrutinized.
But no matter how scientific the method, how astute the scout, or how experienced the owners, managers, and staff, no assessment is an absolute indicator of success, no draft pick is a “sure thing.” The Browns found that out after the selection of another Aggie in the 2014 draft - no comments from the UT pastors, please!
There are few things more important for successful church planting than selecting the right planter to send out into the harvest. And many great assessment tools help us determine the potential of those planters. We interact, interview, and inspect. We look for the “sure thing.”
In Acts 13:2-3, God reminds us that our ability to assess candidates should never be the primary means of selection. Church planters are not drafted by churches or organizations. The Spirit of Jesus is the only one who can draft them to “the work to which I have called them” (v.2).
And sometimes God surprises us. At the end of the movie, a sports commentator says about the Browns general manager’s unexpected number 1 draft pick – “he turned nothin' into a big-time somethin’.” These are the men and women we are looking for, the ones who have passed God’s assessment. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13). As Joby Martin said at last month’s Exponential conference, “God uses a nobody to make much of Himself.”
There could be men and women who the Lord is calling into His harvest that we don’t expect, who don’t fit our typical profile. But as we worship our King and seek His will in fervent prayer, we can rest assured that He will call out those whom He has prepared. And we must be ready and willing to bless and release them.
Preparation is crucial. Assessment is necessary. But let us never trust in those things as the primary means of finding workers. In worship and prayer, God will divinely draft His picks, and we can trust Him to build better teams for His Kingdom work than we could ever imagine.
Jesus, You are Lord of Your Harvest. You alone are capable of calling men and women to the work for which You have prepared them. Give us eyes to see those You are calling, and give us hearts to bless and release them as we worship and pray. Thank You for giving us the privilege to participate in Your Kingdom’s advance, and make us faithful stewards of those You are drafting for Your team. We ask this for the glory of Your name, Jesus! Amen.