In his new eBook, His Burden Is Light: Experiencing Multiplication Through Letting Go, Gospel for Asia’s K.P. Yohannan shares five lessons he has learned that have become foundational to sharing in God’s burden for multiplication. Below, he fleshes out three of the five insights. To read all five, download the FREE eBook here.
What does it look like to follow the Lord and carry His burden?
Taking the Lord’s yoke upon us, as He instructs us to do in Matthew 11:29-30, is living in the awareness that whatever we are doing, whatever ministry the Lord has called us to, we forever maintain the understanding that we do it unto Him. Our service must be rooted in Him, motivated by our love for Him, and done with the desire to exalt His name and His name alone.
In my journey of serving the Lord over the past 40 years, I’ve learned many lessons that have become the foundation for our ministry being able to take part in the Lord’s Great Commission and share in His burden for multiplication in the way He intends.
My brothers and sisters, I share this message with you soberly, knowing how easy it is to run about with our own ideas and our own agendas. Everything can look so good; we can seem to be running on the right track. But if our understanding toward ministry has moved from being one of ministry unto Him to getting results—building a name and serving the people—we are dangerously off course.
1. Wait upon God.
All that brings glory to God and lasts in eternity must have its origin with God, not with ourselves. Along with this, another principle weaves throughout Scripture. Over and over again, we see that waiting upon God precedes the unfolding of His plan or purpose.
One national missionary we support in South Asia, Jager, has reached dozens of villages with the Good News and has established an incredible number of churches in a very difficult area. He has led hundreds to find the joy of knowing Christ. On one trip to South Asia, I went out of my way to visit Jager and his wife. I had to see for myself what kind of program he was using.
Imagine my surprise when I found Jager was not using any special technology at all—unless you want to call the motor scooter and literature that we supplied “technology.” He was living just like the people. He had only a one-room house made of dung and mud. The kitchen was outside, also made of mud—the same stuff with which everything else is constructed in that region. To cook the food, his wife squatted in front of an open fire just like the neighboring women. What was so remarkable about this brother was that everything about him and his wife was so incredibly average. They were living exactly the kind of life you would expect from someone in a village in South Asia.
I asked Jager what kept him going in the midst of such incredible challenge and suffering. He answered, “Waiting upon the Lord, my brother.” I then discovered Jager spends two to three hours daily in prayer, reading and meditating on the Bible. This is what it takes to reach the world with the love of Christ. This is the kind of worker the Lord calls us to be when He entrusts us with the burdens on His heart.
This is also how it happened with the disciples’ ministry after the ascension of Christ. Scripture says, “[Jesus] commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4). It was as they waited upon God that they received His call for their lives, Iand then they went out proclaiming His resurrection and salvation.
The calling of Saul and Barnabas happened in a similar manner. Acts 13:2–3 tells us, “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.”
Notice especially verse two—it was “as they ministered to the Lord” that they heard Him and found out His plan.
It was not when they had a committee meeting (although there is nothing wrong with committee meetings). It was not when they met to discuss the tremendous needs (although that is a good thing to do). It did not happen because somebody challenged them and said, “You had better get out there and do something about all those lost people.” It was not when they did something that was a nice, wholesome, well-planned and thought-out thing to do. It was “as they waited upon the Lord.”
I find it encouraging that before the world began, God knew the purpose and plan He has for each one of us (Acts 17:26). Whether or not our human mind and our logic can grasp this, it is true: ‘‘‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’”(Jer. 29:11, NASB).
However, like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Saul and Barnabas, we only learn of the good plans He already has prepared for us as we take the time to come into His presence and hear from Him.
2. Maintain an attitude of dependence upon the Lord.
Another principle we see throughout Scripture helping us to keep our burdens light—and one that I am incredibly concerned we’re not doing—is that we must remain in the attitude of dependence upon the Lord.
One incident in David’s life perfectly illustrates the importance of this.
In 2 Samuel 5:19, we are told, “David inquired of the LORD, saying, ‘Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?’ And the LORD said to David, ‘Go up, for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into your hand.’”
And so, after hearing from the Lord, David did what He said, and he was victorious.
A few verses later, David is faced with an almost identical circumstance. Once more, the Philistines had stationed themselves in the same valley, and once more, they were waiting to attack Israel.
It would have been natural for David to respond to this battle as he did the one before. After all, the previous plan had been a success, and the enemy and the location were exactly the same. David could have easily said, “Well, it’s the same situation, so let’s just forget about another prayer meeting. We know how to get the job done. Let’s go and put these Philistines to flight.”
But instead, David took the time to once again seek the Lord.
Second Samuel 5:23 says, “Therefore David inquired of the LORD, and He said, ‘You shall not go up; circle around behind them, and come upon them in front of the mulberry trees.’”
“You shall not go up.” Do you see that? God had a different plan this time, and David only learned of it because he lived in the atmosphere of depending upon God, waiting to hear from Him and obey. By this, his ministry was done in connection with Him and unto Him.
As we continue in the journey the Lord has us on, God requires us to stop often along the way and find out what He’s saying. By doing this, our love for the Lord stays strong; the ministry that began out of that love for Him remains in Him; and the work is accomplished without our becoming weary and burnt out. When we stay in the attitude of continuous dependence upon God, what has begun in the Spirit remains in the Spirit and bears lasting fruit.
We must come into His presence and depend upon Him, waiting to hear from Him and know His ways.
3. Experience the fruit of being still.
Please understand. I am not saying that it’s better to forsake the work of the ministry to pursue the “deeper life” of just drawing close to God in solitude. There are some who place great emphasis on this “deeper life,” yet so much of the actual work that God has for them goes neglected in the name of “waiting” upon Him. This can often just be a glorified laziness—and there are verses throughout Scripture that speak of the downfall of the sluggard (Prov. 21:25).
If we look at the life of Jesus, we see that He was extremely busy—traveling here, walking there, healing her, touching him, speaking from a boat, teaching on a hill. He used His time and opportunities to the maximum.
Yet we also read, over and over again, how He would break away from the crowd and all the activity to be with the Father. His entire ministry, all of the seeming “busyness,” flowed out of His intimate relationship with the Father.
My brothers and sisters, the first thing must be first. It all comes back to this one priority: our love for Jesus. No matter how hard we try, no matter what methods we try, the service that pleases Him most, and will sustain us in the end, is the service done out of love. This is how His burdens become light.
Dr. K.P. Yohannan, founder and international director of Gospel for Asia, has been crisscrossing the globe for the last 40 years, challenging the body of Christ to discipleship as he speaks at conferences, special gatherings and churches. His call to a radical lifestyle—with an all-out commitment to Jesus—has left its impact on nearly every continent. He is seen as a missionary statesman, a pastor to pastors and a mission leader to mission leaders.
Dr. Yohannan is a prolific writer with more than 250 books in print, including his landmark book Revolution in World Missions: Final Thrust to Reach the 10/40 Missions, which has changed the course of missions in our generation. Now in its 43rd printing, the book is an international bestseller with 3 million copies in print.