Gardening Lessons

gardening 12

Work around the house is never done. After we trimmed the trees and have a more sunny backyard, we had to plant flowers and shrubs to beautify the garden. In the past we did not tend the garden ourselves as both of us were working. Now that we’re retired, my wife picked up gardening as a hobby, while I got drafted as casual labor! No I don’t have tips on how to keep a beautiful garden, except that not all plants are suitable for each spot in the garden, because some required sun while others prefer shade. As well, different flowers bloom in different months, so you need to buy a variety to enjoy each one’s blossom throughout the summer. But I did learn a few things by comparing the pastoral ministry to gardening/farming, as Paul did in 2 Tim 2:6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.

Farming is hard work! To buy potted plants at wholesale, we got up at 5 AM and went with our contractor to Ontario Food Terminal. The distributors were there even earlier to set up their merchandize, so the hours are long. The farmer ploughs, sows, waters, weeds, harvests, and sells his produce. Nowadays everything is mechanized, but formerly operations were manual and you don’t get weekends off. So is the pastoral ministry. Most members see their pastor only a few hours every Sunday, and may not be aware of the long hours spent in sermon preparation, evangelism, visitation, counseling, administration etc. It’s easy to chalk up 60-70 hours a week, 50-100% over the regular 35-40 hours work week.

We purchased 40 perennials (so we don’t have to do it every year!) and shrubs with our contractor’s trade discount at about 60% off retail price. It pays to have relationships! But the next step was back-breaking! Isa 28:24 When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually? Does he keep on breaking up and harrowing the soil? For each plant, I had to dig a hole for the whole root “ball”, in hard-to-break clay soil with lots of roots from neighboring trees and shrubs. Good thing the contractor had already turned the sod to make a small flower bed, but still we had to break down the clumps of grass roots ourselves using a shovel, which proved very tiring. Then we got down on our knees and placed each plant into the hole, and covered up the ball of roots again with top soil and peat moss by hand. Every muscle ached after two days of digging!

It’s the same with pastoring. Often it is strenuous, not the physical kind, but mental and emotional. Plus you get your hands dirty. Sometimes you would rather not hear the trouble people got themselves into by willfully disobeying God, and affecting those around them. But if you want to help them (if they are willing to seek help), you listen, discern, and counsel as the Spirit leads you.

I suppose you can compare sowing to evangelism, watering/fertilizing to feeding people with the Word of God, and weeding/applying insecticides to reproving wrong behavior. You do the best you can, but leave the results to God, just as farmers do. Jas 5:7 Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. It does not matter how hard the farmer labors, he has to rely on God to bring the rain. And no matter how hard the pastor works, he has to depend on God for the results. These are some of the things I was reminded of in our first gardening experience.

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