For a sizeable chunk of my ministry, I could be compared to a farmer overseeing an orchard. I was allotted a certain size field and was motivated to see that field blossom and expand. So, I mapped my plans for cultivation and growth. I gave a lot to time to planting seed and worried if it was the right kind. I studied the cultural climate and fretted over storms or drought. I tended to the machinery of the farm and employed best practice management to ensure smooth procedures. I recruited workers for the orchard and trained them for the harvest. Like taking a pulse, I would regularly measure the impact of my efforts. Some months flourished and I felt great! Other seasons were empty of any discernible growth and I would wonder what I was doing wrong. It didn't help when my fellow farmers would talk about their bumper crops. Frankly, this pattern of being the farmer tired me from the inside out. I considered it to be the cost of cultivation and hoped that I would be able to last until retirement when someone else could take over the orchard. My language thus far has been in the past tense - because God did something to change me. In ways that could only be understood with hindsight, God said to me, "Scott, stop being the farmer and just be a tree!”
Rather than being responsible for the sprouting of many trees, God called me to focus on the growth of my own soul. He forced my attention inward, to consider the sapless, barren, wooden state of my heart. God invited me to sink my roots deeply into Christ. He reminded me that I didn't have to do anything but "abide in Me as I abide in you." I didn't have to bear the burden of worrying about the weather or come up with new agricultural techniques. I wasn't responsible for the orchard - there was divine Gardner tending His field. This way of ministry was new to me but the sigh of relief was obvious to all around me. I didn't shift without complaint or adjustment. I worried about my responsibility for the harvest and wondered if this shift was being too passive or selfish. God silenced my concerns with the promise of fruitfulness. If I was willing to remain in Him and welcome His pruning touch, He would produce within me fruit - much fruit - fruit that would remain. God would produce more blossoms in the orchard by me being a tree, than could ever happen if I remained the farmer. Has it worked? I certainly rejoice over the new thing God has done and bear witness to the impact He is spreading around me - but, "Has it worked?" is the wrong question. The question takes us back to a pragmatic measure which feeds our business mindset. The question is not "Has it worked?" but rather, "Does this new perspective lead into the life and love of Jesus?" I know how you can find out.