Not being the 11th hour guy — why we should be serving right now

Matthew 20

I don’t want to be one of the guys that gets hired at the eleventh hour.

This portion of the story haunts me the most:

And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’

The parable ends with the workers receiving the same amount as everyone else that had been hired several hours earlier, illustrating Jesus’ tremendous grace, but I’d rather not have Jesus approach me and ask me where I’ve been all this time. Furthermore, although the whiners who get the same amount for more work are projected as in the wrong, do I want to have the reputation as the lazy guy who got paid for doing 8.3% of the work?

There are several reasons why people “wait” when it comes to getting work done, particularly regarding “ministry” (which is just a fancy word for serving people). Everyone should be serving people, but some decide to mull it over.  Here’s why:

1) They want to wait for a call from the Lord.
There are good reasons not to jump into a “ministry role” at church, so to speak.  Maybe you’re bitter from a horrible previous church experience — having a bad taste in your mouth will not help anyone at your church and will only hurt people.  Maybe you don’t really know what you should be doing and you need some time to figure it out.  Or maybe you don’t have a good reputation or your integrity is in question, and you really can’t teach kids about sexual abstinence with a straight face.

But if you’re not involved in “church”, there is no excuse, because you’re always called, and you’re called right now. Quit standing there. Don’t let legalism tell you that you are “unfit” to serve — unless you’re pursuing a pastoral role.  That’s an entirely different story.

2) They have other things to take care of first.
Jesus doesn’t have any sympathy for this excuse.

21 Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”

22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

It’s likely the man’s father isn’t dead — the guy is just going to wait until his father passes, and then take off at a more convenient time.  There is nothing — that’s an absolute entity — that is more important that following Jesus.  If you’ve put something else ahead of that, you’ve got it backwards, my friend.

3) They’re lazy.
In the parable, some people are depicted as “standing around” and “idle”.  Do you really believe they’re being honest when they said no one had hired them yet?  The question is, did they even apply?

Have you applied yet?  Jesus is always hiring, as you can clearly see. Stop collecting unemployment.

4) They’re indifferent.
Much like a person finally confessing their sins on their deathbed, people wait until it seems important to finally act.  Do you realize how insulting this is to the people who actually care? Hundreds die daily at the hands of indifference or in the absence of pity. It’s time to step up.

5) They don’t feel led/full of the Spirit/_____.
These are the same people that say, “God spoke to me and said you should _____.” Jesus commanded His disciples to love one another, to go and make disciples, to obey Him to show that we love Him.  Certainly being “full of the Spirit” will assist you, but it is not a prerequisite to serve.  It’s hard to argue with the “God told me” card, but it’s even harder to argue with the clarity of Scripture.

What are some other reasons people wait around to serve?

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