And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.
-Luke 10:2 ESV
I love to garden. Working the soil, adding nutrients, and cultivating my garden is a lot of work. But, in the end, it’s worth it to sit back and see healthy plants producing crops that I can enjoy with my family. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth the reward. Anyone can put a few seeds in the ground and hope for success, but without continued work and cultivating, a garden without nutrients just won’t produce.
What’s with the garden talk?
I spend time investing in others’ lives. I love it- it’s what I’m wired to do. I desire to see people built up in Christ so that they are equipped to make a lasting impact for the Kingdom. It’s not easy, though. I see the people I invest in like plants in a garden. The Individual is the fruit bearing plant, their lives are the soil, and the nutrients they receive come from the Holy Spirit by way of engaging in discipleship with a disciple maker- for the sake of my example, a Gardner.
but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
– John 4:14 ESV
I’ve been there
From personal experience, I believe there are times when leaders become so focused on laboring and cultivating others that they forget they need the same treatment. I’ve been there. When you’re wired to care for others it’s easy to find yourself at a place where you’re burning the candle at both ends. Think about the garden analogy again. If you stop watering and caring for your plants then what happens? They become unhealthy and no longer produce good fruit.
The same can be said for the gardener. You can’t water a garden with an empty watering can, all you’re doing is going through the motions. Chew on that for a minute.
As a leader, it’s vital to understand your needs and not lose sight of them. Just like the people you cultivate, you also require the same. If you’re not being fed and cultivated then you can’t effectively cultivate others. You’ll more than likely end up burnt out, frustrated, confused, or wobbly. You’ll know what I mean by wobbly if you read my previous article.
Companions: One of the greatest assets a cultivator has are a close group of companions to lean on. Fellow laborers who have an inside view of what you’re doing. I can say from personal experience that having 2 or 3 guys that I can connect with to ask for prayer, talk about wins, failures, struggles, or just to chat with has been vital for me. Distance doesn’t matter here. Yes, having that person to sit and drink coffee with is awesome but distance doesn’t have to be a barrier. For instance, a couple of the guys I connect with are hundreds of miles away and we use technology like Zoom, Facetime, and Skype to connect. For reference, Paul, one of the greatest apostles in the new testament had numerous companions that came alongside him throughout his missionary journey most notably, Barnabas. Remember, iron sharpens iron.
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
-Proverbs 27:17 ESV
Organization: This might seem trivial, but organization definitely attributes to health and effective leadership. I remember my first management position well, but what I remember most is that I was poorly organized. I struggled to plan my day and stick to it, and because I couldn’t get organized, I couldn’t effectively lead my team. I was always stressed, I wasn’t focused, I couldn’t adapt to the things that “popped up” on a daily basis, and eventually I almost lost my job. Developing and maintaining good organizational habits will help you see more clearly and make healthier decisions.
Rest. Probably the most important thing you can do is rest. I was terrible at this for a long time. Life tells us that there are only so many hours in a day and we need to get as much done as possible to be successful. As a result, the first thing to go from many or our schedules is some form of rest, or down time. In order to remain healthy, you need to rest. My schedule rotates so my rest day or Sabbath somewhat changes, but I still rest. I never knew the value of intentional rest until I hit burnout. Now I take one day every week, mark it on the calendar, I don’t schedule anything ministry or work related, and I rest. Think about it, we were made in the image of creator of the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:27) and He even rested. God found rest to be so important that he blessed a day and set it aside for rest.
“So, God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”
You’re a cultivator. You love to help people bear fruit for the sake of Gods Kingdom and that’s awesome! Just remember that you also need the same nutrients because if not, you may find yourself trying to water your garden with an empty watering can.
Making it stick
- Think of a few people you could connect with to come alongside you in ministry? How would you approach them? In what ways would this be beneficial to your health as a leader?
- How are you resting? On a scale of 1-10, how well do you currently engage in sabbathing? What can you do to improve your ability to Sabbath well?
- What does your current organization structure look like? What do you do well? What can you improve in?
Join the discussion. Leave a comment and let me know how this resonates with you!