Understanding it is not up to us to produce growth is both frustrating and liberating. The frustration comes from a natural desire to see our ministry have an impact on the lives of our listeners. When growth is not visible, or when it seems that the ground is dry and hard, it can be discouraging. But it can also be a point of temptation.
We were watching a video by R.C. Sproul during a Sunday School class and something caught my eye. On the wall behind the podium was a picture. It was a painting of a man from biblical times scattering seed on a field.
I made a mental note to look online to see if I could find a copy. I found something similar, put it on my list, and my wife, Laura, got it for me for Christmas. Until my retirement it sat in a prominent place in my office, reminding me often that that’s what we do. If you’re a pastor reading this, it’s what you do, too.
You know the very familiar statement from 1 Corinthians 3. Speaking of his own ministry, Paul writes: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6, ESV).
There are two significant ideas in this passage. The first is that those who minister are involved in planting and watering. Sunday-by Sunday as you teach or preach (and counsel, and converse, and pray, and lead), you plant and water, plant and water.