Discrepancy Between the Harvest and the Number of Workers

In yesterday’s Gospel from St. Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples that ” the harvest is abundant but the laborers are few.”

I read a piece titled 80/20 rule written by Donna Schaper, senior minister at Judson Memorial Church in NYC, that shared these thoughts on Jesus’ words:

When we hear that the harvest is plenty and the workers are few, we can go “Duh,” and say we are familiar with the 80/20 rule. 80% of the people in just about any system are AWOL while 20% of the people are carrying double and triple burdens. We can say “Duh,” and continue to pragmatically, if cynically, assign the best jobs to the person who is already too busy to do them.

We could also say, Hmmm…what was Jesus trying to say here? Why are there so few workers working on the harvest? Is it because no one has invited them? Or because the talented hoard talent? Or the super- usy hoard power? What would unlock the door to more participation in communal life?

Leadership, the pundits say, is the art of maximizing people’s gifts while minimizing their liabilities. What if we had a goal of 30% as opposed to 20% participation and set out to invite people “in” instead of being cynically aware that they are “out?”

Sharper makes a really good point. It is so easy to keep giving things to the busy folk and simply lament that no one else is around to help bear the load. But we all need to ask ourselves what we are doing to invite others in. Do we actively look for ways to inolve others or simply assume we have to do it all ourselves.

Sharper points out that most people require invitation and mentoring. Jesus was the master of invitation. We would do well to emulate his mannter of bringing others in.