This is part two of a post I started on Monday. You can click here to go to the first post and start at the beginning.
Last weekend I weeded my mom’s flower beds. From battling with the weeds I learned a lot. Here are the final three lessons I got:
4. All weeds can be rooted out with patience and persistance…as long as you don’t care about getting cut up.
Before jumping in I surveyed the carnage. At one point the bed had been filled with flowers and small bushes. All that remained of them now were dead twigs, withered leaves, a suffering rhododendron, and weeds…lots and lots of weeds.
It reminded me of a lot of churches I know. Once vibrant houses of worship, they have been overcome by weeds. Pride, jealousy, unforgivenness, sloth, and other toxins took root, went unattended, and very slowly began taking over. In many of these churches there is still life, but it stands as a tribute to former health surrounded by death.
Once I had taken in the picture, I put on my gloves and went to work. One weed at a time, I dug them out. They tried to deter me by scratching my arms with their thorns. They sought to discourage me by breaking up and refusing to come out as a whole piece. I swear, I felt as though they were multiplying as I dug. I would clear a space and move forward, only to look back and see more where I had just left. Once I was done pulling them out I went and got a huge can of round up and squited the ground to ensure anything I missed would die an agonizing death. The good news is, they all came out and the rhododendron was saved. In a short while, once the soil has cleansed itself from the toxins, new life will be able to grow there again.
Be encouraged. If you are in a church like I described, it will be hard, but the weeds can come out, the ground can be cleared, the poison of the Holy Spirit will destroy the remnants, and new life will spring once again. It is going to require a lot of hard work, but it is possible.
5. Anyone can pull weeds.
At one point I looked to my right where I saw my aging mother with troubled knees (we won’t divulge her age her for fear of death) picking up weed scraps and stuffing them in a trash bag. Then I looked to my left and saw my four year old daughter wildly swing a mini-pitch fork, dancing, and singing to herself (I’m not sure how productive her work was…but she was trying…sort of).
Leading is like weeding. Anyone can lead. Don’t believe all the hype. You don’t need to be a charismatic speaker, a gifted strategic thinker, a dynamic team leader, or a brilliant organizer. You only need to be empowered by the Spirit, pray, and put the mission above yourself. If your church is struggling, don’t wait for a gifted professional leader (a.k.a. pastor) to come in and fix stuff. Pray and start pulling the weeds.
Have I driven this weed pulling analogy completely into the ground yet? Hmmm…Oh wait! It moved a little! Lets beat the dead horse once more shall we.
5. Don’t let flower beds go for years without pulling weeds.
If we had taken the time to weed my mom’s garden on a regular basis it wouldn’t have been such a war this time. If you are leading a group, (whether it be an institutional church or missional community) regular times of weeding are necessary. Examine what you are doing and make sure nothing has begun to sprout that you don’t like. This is necessary on a personal level as well. You need to step back from yourself, reflect, and search for attitudes or habbits you don’t want. They will spring up without your noticing. Cut them down before they get out of control.