If you haven’t already, check out our free eBook – Co-Workers in The Mission Bible Study. It is a great MUST HAVE resource EVERY missionary, mission’s team, and mission trip leader needs! The #1 reason missionary leaves the field is interpersonal conflict. If we allow, the enemy will do anything possible to distract us from the mission.
This document provides the biblical foundation for the co-workers in the mission bible study. It offers verse-by-verse detail through the entire study.
The Gift of Leadership
Leadership is a gift from God to the body of Christ. In Matthew 16:8 Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” One of the ways he lifts us up is to place us into leadership. Ephesians 4:11-13 says: “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Leadership is God’s provision to the church to accomplish his mission!
If you are in any leadership role whether it is in a primary or secondary role you are a co-worker in the mission!
Biblical Discipleship is a central value of GHI’s calling! We are not called to “Go!” for the sake of taking people to India, but we are called to teach people The Great Commission. Our mission is to engage the church to then empower it.. Our health and effectiveness as co-workers will determine our effectiveness and fruitfulness in accomplishing this mission. Rather, if the focus becomes conflict between co-workers and we have no witness of unity to the unbelievers then we can fail in our mission.
|In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus gives us The Great Commission…18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”|
WARNING: Even the strongest, and most experienced believers will be tested as the enemy will use jet lag, fatigue, cultural differences, unexpected circumstances, and a multitude of highly stressful events to cause dissension among co-workers! If you have never been discipled in what God’s Word says about serving as co-workers then this can be a huge vulnerability to significant spiritual warfare and even outright failure in the mission. Therefore we believe this discipleship is critically important for the effectiveness of our witness and mission.
At Global Hope India it takes a lot of leaders who work together as co-workers to further the mission God has given to us. At any given time there will be GHI staff, mission team leaders, mission team members, board members, Indian partners, and countless other brothers and sisters in Christ all working together. Given that we are engaging the church in the United States to empower the church in India it requires a great deal of spiritual maturity, trust in God, and commitment to biblical unity to effectively work together as true co-workers in the mission.
So, let’s look to what God’s Word says about co-workers…
|1 Corinthians 3 – The Church and Its Leaders (NIV)1 Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?|
5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.
18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”[a]; 20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”[b] 21 So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas[c] or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.
- (vs 1) “Brothers and sisters” are a description of family. We are family! Families may have conflict, but their DNA always maintains their identity as family. We have the Spiritual DNA of our Heavenly Father. We’re in the family of God.
- (vs 2) conflict, jealousy, quarreling are signs of spiritual immaturity and worldly behavior.
- (vs 5) God calls and uses leaders (assigns tasks)
- (vs 6) but only God can do the work (makes it grow)
- (vs 7) No worker is anything
- (vs 7) Only God matters
- (vs 8) All leaders share one purpose. Each will be rewarded according to their own labor.
- (vs 9) All leaders are co-workers in God’s service. Called God’s field. God’s building.
- (vs 10) It is by God’s grace we are allowed to be a co-worker.
- (vs 11) Only Jesus Christ can be the foundation for every co-worker.
- (vs 12-15) Each co-worker’s work will be tested. Only that which is built on Christ (eternal values) will remain and be rewarded. Any work based on temporal materials will be burnt up.
- (vs 16-18) The presence of God is the only things that makes the difference. The power is from the Lord.
- (vs 19-23) No worker should boost in their abilities.
|Philippians 2:19-29 – Timothy and Epaphroditus (NIV)|
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24 And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.
25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.
- (vs 19-30) Notice the very personal descriptions of these co-worker relationships.
- (vs 21) co-workers are not to look out for their own interest, but only those of Jesus Christ.
- (vs 22) co-workers are to serve in the work of the gospel.
- (vs 25) notice the descriptors “brother”, “co-worker”, “fellow soldier”, “your messenger”
- (vs 29) co-workers help ease anxiety in others.
- (vs 30) co-workers are willing to die for the work of Christ (not for their rights, honor, reputation, etc).
- (vs 30) co-workers risk their lives for one another.
- (vs 30) co-workers stand in the gap for one another.
|3 John 1:3-12 (NIV)5 Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters,[a] even though they are strangers to you. 6 They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God. 7 It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. 8 We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.|
9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. 10 So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.
11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. 12 Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone—and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true.
- (vs 5) co-workers are brothers and sisters in Christ. They are family. They are never enemies. Even if they are strangers to us we are to be faithful in how we treat one another.
- (vs 6) We should always be known by our love for our co-workers.
- (vs 6) We should always treat our co-workers in a manner that honors God.
- (vs 7) ALL co-workers are working for the “sake of the Name” (Jesus).
- (vs 8) We should show hospitality to all co-workers… so that WE may work TOGETHER for the truth.
- (vs 9-11) Diotrephes is an example of a co-worker who doesn’t set a good example. He causes conflict, transfers the focus from Christ to himself and disrupts the mission.
- (vs 11) co-workers who imitate good are from God. Co-workers who do evil have not seen God.
- (vs 12) Demetrius is an example of a co-worker who sets a good example. He has a good testimony.
God’s Word clearly demonstrates the need for co-workers to work together in mission. The reality is that as beautiful and magnificent as the body of Christ is, conflict between coworkers is inevitable. It is also important to understand what God’s Word says about resolving conflict in order to maintain a devout conviction unity among believers especially co-workers!
God’s Word on Resolving Conflict
|2 Corinthians 5:16-21 16 Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.|
- (vs 16) Here we are instructed not to identify one another especially co-workers according to the flesh. We are to hate the sin, but love our brothers and sisters! Every believer is reconciled to God and should remain reconciled to God in our judgment and treatment of them no matter how badly they sin against us. Understanding this helps determine our response in conflict!
- (vs 18) We have been given the ministry of reconciliation. It is God’s will for you to be reconciled with your co-worker. Done. End of discussion.
- (vs 19) Jesus doesn’t NOT hold their trespasses against them and neither can we.
- (vs 20) We are ambassadors for Christ and should BEG people on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God. There is NO room to write any co-worker off, dismiss them from the body of Christ, reject them, burn any bridges, etc.
|Matthew 1815 “If your brother or sister[b] sins,[c] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[d] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.|
- (vs 15) Take any sin (or concern) directly to your co-worker. Always start with “just between the two of you” before proceeding to verses 16 & 17 otherwise you’ll be disobeying Scripture and will have to choose who is the bigger “sinner”?
- Expect God to deal with 95% of all conflict by applying Matthew 18:15 without having to proceed to Matthew 18:16 & 17! DO NOT allow the enemy to offer you any excuses to avoid Matthew 18:15! Where God guides He provides!
- Be very slow to allow the enemy to identify any believer to be treated as a pagan! This should be done with much weeping and anguish and never with any joy or gladness!
|Luke 6:36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.|
Ephesians 4:31-3231 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
- (vs 36) Be merciful to your co-workers as you have been shown mercy too!
- (vs 31) Don’t stay angry or bitter at your co-worker. Don’t slander them. Don’t work against them.
- (vs 32) Be kind to your co-worker. Be compassionate to your co-worker. Forgive your co-worker just as Jesus as forgiven you.
Jesus’ Prayer for Unity – among ALL co-workers!
|John 17 (NIV)|
Jesus Prays to Be Glorified17 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:
“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
Jesus Prays for His Disciples6 “I have revealed you[a] to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of[b] your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by[c] that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by[d] the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
Jesus Prays for All Believers20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you[e] known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
- (vs 9) Pray for your co-workers!
- (vs 11) Pray for God to protect your co-workers by the power of His name.
- (vs 11) Pray that your co-workers would be one as Jesus and the Father are one.
- (vs 13) Pray for your co-workers to have the full measure of joy.
- (vs 15) Pray for God to protect your co-workers from the evil one.
- (vs 17) Pray for God to sanctify your co-workers by the truth.
- (vs 18) Pray for God to send your co-workers into the world.
- (vs 20) Pray for your co-workers as they share the message of Christ and for those who will believe.
- (vs 21) Pray for ALL co-workers to be one so that the world will believe the Father sent Jesus.
- (vs 23) Pray for ALL co-workers to experience complete unity so the world can know the Father sent Jesus and that Jesus loves them as the Father loves Jesus.
- (vs 24) Pray for ALL co-workers to see Jesus’ glory and experience the Father’s love for Jesus.
- (vs 25-26) Pray for ALL co-workers to be filled with the Father’s love for Jesus and Jesus’ presence today.