Several years ago I made the shift. I had always kind of enjoyed experimenting in the yard with different plant combinations, colors, and layouts. I would be lured in by the big bloomers at the big box stores and I would often come home from a trip to get some nails with a plethora of plants. I really didn’t know what I was doing.
Somewhere in my infatuation I started thinking about what I was doing. I started studying the plants and what they needed. Which ones liked the shade and which liked the sun? Who needed water and who didn’t? I made the shift from being a casual plant planter to a real gardener. Now I’m no master gardener, but I can grow a big batch of snow peas, lots of tomatoes, and dahlias like you wouldn’t believe. I get it all going in early spring by starting seeds in my greenhouse. I carefully place the plants at just the right time. I give them the fertilizer they need and mix and match the right combos in my raised beds. And then I wait.
Most seasons there is a great harvest to be reaped. I can’t tell you how many salads I’ve eaten with homegrown lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions. Don’t forget the bunches of basil we use most every day. But, there is another reality to this gardening that I do. It’s the weeds. They are ALWAYS growing! I’ve learned that if I’m going to have healthy, happy plants I have to pay attention to the weeds and I have to get rid of them. There’s just no way around it.
There has been many a day when I have been picking weeds and thinking about my ministry. I’ve been planning and praying and thinking and evaluating. And recently I realized that my ministry is a lot like my gardening. The weeds are always growing!
In ministry we deal with people, and if you haven’t noticed lately, people are sinful. Just look in the mirror to remember that. Sinful people, no matter how healthy they are, often produce weeds. These weeds come in many forms: criticism, pride, greed, selfishness. Sound familiar? Weeds are growing in relationships all the time, and if we don’t pick them they’ll take over. They will steal the very nutrients out of the soil and render the plant helpless to grow and thrive. Weeds must be dealt with.
When it comes to our systems and structures in ministry, the weeds can grow there, too. We get slack in making sure we have a good welcome team in place. Our yearly calendar becomes a six-month calendar. We forget to recruit the volunteers we need for the next season of ministry. Our systems and structures get covered with the overgrown weeds of the urgent. When this happens we often don’t even see it or worse, we see these weeds and we ignore them all together. Structures with weeds growing all over them become old, weak, unattractive and ultimately ineffective.
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So, is it time for you to pay attention to the weeds? Are they growing in your ministry? Are they growing in your heart? I’ve learned that weeds are both easy and hard to pick. It takes time, effort, resolve, and courage. They can be prickly and painful. They compete for the good stuff. But I promise you, once you pick those weeds and give the plants the space and environment they need to grow, you won’t believe the yield you get from your labor!
“Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11