We have been working on our personal goals for the New Year, 2013 here in Uganda. Through the discussions and formation of our goals some things have emerged, that I have identified, as positive values for our team.
Our collective vision is to see disciples, transformed by Christ, living and sharing the gospel. The mission is to make disciples and plant churches that will reproduce and multiply our efforts.
We have all felt God say he was going to move in our place; something we do not take for granted. God chooses times and places to bring about a movement of himself. There are places God calls people to labor in which there will be no wide scale movement. With this fact in mind, there are 2 key ingredients:The work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of people and the zeal and obedience in which we pour ourselves into making disciples.
The Holy Spirit draws people to himself. It creates a hunger in the person. The Holy Spirit answers our prayers for laborers and puts us into contact with the right people. The Holy Spirit opens ears of the listeners and the mouths of the speakers. We must never mistake our dependence upon the Holy Spirit. We must never give the Holy Spirit lip service but live lives and minister unaffected by the awareness of His presence.
We the laborers must have a zeal to make disciples. We identify making disciples as a whole process, starting long before conversion with the first words of the gospel and going through the growth of a godly person. We cannot desire accolades or praises, adoration or certificates for ourselves. Our primary concern filling our mind day and night must be that God is glorified, lifted up high to be praised by all. We must daily seek humility because we understand that pride is an attempt to steal God’s glory and put it upon ourselves and pride plagues us all. We must be purposeful. We must look for how the Spirit is working in our relationships and probe to see if disciples are awaiting beneath these people. We must put off everything that does not contribute to the disciple making process. A laborer must put off the things which hinder us, steal our time and distract us from purposeful living. We must not be afraid to ask those we are discipling to do the same when we recognize such activities in their lives. We must be connected to the vine. In order to be constantly poured out as a drink offering we must constantly be filled up. The word must dwell in us richly. We must cultivate the primary inward disciplines of Bible reading, memorization, and prayer. We must share the gospel in and out of season. The sharing of the gospel is often accompanied by fear and the only way to dispel that fear is through practice. Better methods will not dispel the fear or necessarily increase the skill. It is the practice of sharing the hope that already resides within you.
The Parable of the Talents is a good parable for the laborer to look at. At times we wonder at the harshness of the master regarding his servant’s desire to protect the talent. It has been brought to our attention through a look at Rabinnic teaching that what the servant lacked was love for his master. He feared his master but lacked love. Fear is enough to keep us from doing wrong but not enough to drive us to take risks in order to produce for our master. As disciples and laborers we must not only fear but love our God. Our love must be to the extent that we are willing to risk any and all in order to produce for our master that which will bring him great joy. Two servants invested the talents and in so doing risked losing all of it and in turn their jobs. There was no FDIC. They risked the eventual fate of the the last servant. Yet, love drove them beyond. Each of them wanted to be the one who came to the shepherd with the 99 sheep and said “look, here is your lost sheep, I’ve found him!” Each of them loved the master to the extent that to bring him joy was their greatest desire. Love and Fear work together as motivating factors that will produce a godly and active lifestyle of a disciple.
So we encourage our brothers and sisters around the world to be laborers filled with love and fear for our master that will lead to a risk filled high reward lifestyle of the kingdom. Examine yourselves that love might be your driving factor every day. If you find yourself doing your work out of fear or duty go back to your knees. Substitutes for a love driven service will ultimately fall short and the laborer will have lost of a lot of time, money and energy in the process. Dwell in the arms of your master and find that love deep within everyday to drive you into this life of a laborer.
Finally, we cannot live as laborers in isolation. A laborer must seek a community of the like minded to work closely with. Community provides accountability in our disciplines, restoration in our failings, identity in our disbelief, purpose in our wanderings. There are times when we are forced into isolation like Elijah, but we must always seek community when it is available.
Thanks for taking the time to read what has been on our minds here in Uganda. I would hope that this would characterize the laborers of Advance Him. I have used the words laborer and disciple interchangibly.