In the readings for today, one phrase stood out amongst the others. The key line for me was that “the harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few.” I am not going to write about the sweet potato or cotton harvest season here in Eastern North Carolina, USA, however. The readings refer to harvesting people for God, and to bring them to the faith.
Harvest is Abundant
There are about 8 billion people on the planet today, and only 2.5 billion are Christian. If we focus on bringing people to Jesus, that is an abundant harvest to think about. In the USA, 23% of people practice a religion called “None” …meaning practicing no real organized religion at all. Father Sylvester is in Guyana, as you saw in the Faith in Action video we presented on the GVM website. He reminded us that there are people in his region that have never heard of Jesus, after two thousand years of Christianity in the world. So, a lack of opportunity or a lack of a target audience is not an excuse to not to get to work.
Be Ye Doers, Not Hearers Only
I love how James tells us not to just listen to God’s words in the Bible or in Church, but to act upon them. This phrase is etched on the pulpit of a church we used to attend in California, as a daily or weekly reminder. This concept of action goes to the core of the GVM mission, and hopefully in all our lives. We need to be people of action, whether we are full time religious personnel or not. We have the spiritual and corporal works of mercy to give us guidance on how we can help.
The Pareto Principle states that 20% of the people, machines or inputs produce 80% of the outputs. Applying the principle to a Parish suggests that 20% of the people donate 80% of the time, treasure, and talent. In some parishes, it might even be 10% doing 90%. We know who some of those people are, and there are also folks behind the scenes getting the job done. Our parish priests are worn thin and are expected to do remarkable things with few resources. It’s time to help make a change to increase parish involvement. I do not have a simple answer to get more people involved. One simple idea is just asking someone in charge what needs to get done, and just do it. Leadership can be reminded to ask for help aloud and see who responds to the call.
In the early days of the United States, there was a writer/thinker/patriot named Benjamin Franklin. When he was not “discovering” electricity or starting post offices or writing an Almanac, he published many commonsense sayings that hold true today. One that came to mind was “many hands make light work.” It means that if you put many people to work on a project, each individual can do less, and the job still gets done. An example would be 4 people moving a couch instead of 1 person. If we leverage Franklin’s words, with the Pareto Principle, we can make progress as laborers working to harvest more. If we all provide a few items to the food drive, we will end up with a huge amount to offer to the community. If we all say a prayer for someone in need, that adds up to lots of prayer.
My final thought regarding doing more harvesting is something I call time tithing. Tithing is the age-old practice of donating 10% of your pretax income to the church. Many churches take that very seriously, others not very seriously. A traditional work week in the USA is 40 hours. Many people have a tough time making ends meet, especially in these days of rapid inflation, so donating 10% of a family income is a very tough ask. My time tithing concept is to donate 4 hours per week, which is 10% of 40 hours, to your church, a charity, a foundation, or a cause that may bring people to the faith. You can do 4 hours per month to start with. Donating one Saturday morning per month in a God honoring service to others would cover your monthly time tithe.
God has a Help Wanted sign posted, but you may not have seen it. No experience needed. It is out there if you look around a little bit. The hourly wage is not particularly good, but the retirement plan is AWESOME.