“The hardworking farmer ought to be the first to get a share of the crops”
(2 Tim. 2:6).
A disciplemaker is like a farmer: plowing, planting, watering, cultivating, and harvesting. But God gives the increase! This image reminds us of several principles that are true of farming as well as disciplemaking.
First, farming takes hard work.
Farmers get up before sunrise and usually work long after dark. Remember, gospel work is hard work!
During the summer of 1975, I had the opportunity to serve at Camp Rockmont for Boys in Black Mountain, North Carolina. It was one of the most challenging summers of my young life as a new believer in Christ. I had the responsibility of shepherding several young men who were twelve to fourteen years old. The days were long, and the work was hard, but it was so worth it because I saw lives change in these young men through the gospel.
That’s the way it still is after all these years of investing in others. It’s worth it because of the transformation you see in others as God works through you to meet the needs of those around you for His glory.
Next, farming takes patience.
“Therefore, brothers, be patient until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth and is patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains” (James 5:7).
Those who are in gospel work must be patient because spiritual growth takes time. It is slow and tedious, so we must be patient to show and share the love of Christ by investing in the lives of others even when we don’t see progress!
As Warren Wiersbe said, “Only Eternity will reveal the harvest God has accomplished through us.”
Farming yields a portion of the crop reserved for the farmer.
All disciplemakers get the privilege of enjoying their share of the “crop.” Think of the joys of ministry: leading people to Christ, seeing lives changed and transformed, having rich fellowship with Christ, and cultivating life-long friendships.
When you think of ministry, don’t think microwave; instead, think Crock-Pot! It requires hard work and patience, but there is joy unspeakable and full of glory!
While serving at the Nicholls State BCM, I had the opportunity to disciple a young man named Kevin who became a son in the faith to me, a great ministry partner, and a student leader on the campus.
As part of our discipleship pathway on campus, we started some discipleship groups. Kevin and I each had a group. My group was going well, and Kevin’s group seemed to be losing traction. Derek and Tony (guys who were in Kevin’s group) just weren’t as faithful as the guys in my group. They weren’t consistent with their assignments, seldom memorized Scripture, and failed to come to all the meetings.
One day, Kevin came into my office, upset. I asked him what was wrong, and he told me that he was going to stop meeting with the group. When I asked him why, he said, “You always get the good guys, and I always get the scrubs.”
After I shared with Kevin that spiritual growth takes time and that we must be patient to allow God to work, he left my office with a resolve to patiently journey together with Derek and Tony. For the rest of that year, Kevin and I got to watch God work, seeing Derek and Tony changed and transformed by the power of God!
Fast-forward several years later, and Derek and Tony were leading one of our worship gatherings on campus. It became obvious that God had done a work in their lives. They led the gathering with excellence, preaching and leading in meaningful worship.As disciplemakers, we must be as patient as a farmer who is trusting God for a spiritual harvest Click To Tweet
During the service, I noticed that Kevin was grinning from ear to ear, pleased by what he had seen and heard. After the service, knowing that Kevin was thrilled over his group of guys, I went up to him and said, “Not bad for a bunch of scrubs!”
The point is this: As disciplemakers, we must be as patient as a farmer who is trusting God for a spiritual harvest. We plant, water, and cultivate, but God is the one who always brings the growth.