"Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest' " (Mt 9:36-38).
Notice what Jesus, the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:11) does. He sees people who are hurting. Others are sick. Some have no direction in life. And "he felt compassion for them…" What could he do as a result of this tugging in his heart? Here are some options:
1. Jump in and start single-handedly reaching out to everyone he can. The job is so immense, he may burn out and he definitely is not going to get to everyone. But at least he will be busy and look busy. No one could criticize him for not being busy.
2. Become depressed. What is the point if the job is so big and some people will not get reached?
3. Get Angry and Blame. He could have started pointing fingers in order to blame somebody for the situation. He could have given them an angry lecture about how they should have done more.
4. Try to recruit. He could try and enlist people who could help him engage in ministry, healing, caring, sharing the Gospel, discipling, and other things he had been doing.
5. Pray about it. He could pray and enlist the help of others to pray about it as well.
Some people today would choose one of the first three even though none of them are very helpful. However, Jesus chose the last two, which involves prayer and help from others. They had the Good Shepherd among them, yet the people were like sheep without a shepherd. Therefore, the good shepherd says, "I want your help!"
Now, let your mind come to the present…"The elders looked out over the congregation, and over the city. They felt compassion for them. So many were hurting, downcast, like sheep without a shepherd. Then they said …"
The challenge is for us to pray and to step up and help. The challenge is for us to encourage our leaders, pray for them, communicate with them and volunteer to help. It is too easy to become critical or angry and point fingers without praying for, encouraging, or offering to help. It is even easier to get depressed and do nothing. It is still even easier to expect leaders to be lone rangers and do all the heavy lifting. None of these are helpful and can be destructive. What is more helpful is to do as Jesus says. Pray for workers and then jump in to help. In the next chapter, those who prayed for workers find themselves working with the Good Shepherd as the workers they had prayed for, and now began to multiply workers as they reached out to the lost and the hurting. What a positive example!
The thing that is encouraging is when we are seeing ourselves step up to pray, help and encourage our leaders and carry on the ministry and mission of God!