The best fertilizer is the gardener’s shadow.
Gardening is a hobby I started a few years back when a desire to grow wine grapes sparked a more broad endeavor. I built three 4’X7′ raised beds which grew to six the following year, and will soon turn into nine. I use raised beds because the soil where we live is littered with rocks. We call them Cucamonga Potatoes because they pretty much grow here. If you shovel 6″ down and do not harvest an unbakable (definitely not a word) potato, you can assume either the previous owner of your home slavishly sifted through that patch of dirt for their own gardening adventures, or you are digging in what was previously a sparkling blue pool later filled in with good clean dirt. These are the facts.
In my short time as an aspiring (sub)urban farmer, yes that’s a thing, I have found the above proverb to be consistently true. I’ve spent hours and hours planning, building, preparing, amending, planting, watering, pruning, and of course weeding in my garden. Since the fall of man, this amount of toil and effort is necessary in order to see any amount of success or fruit. Thank you Adam.
My shadow is an important element in my garden. Vegetables grow best with constant care and attention. It’s the same with people.
I know, what a cliché analogy. Please forgive me.
But we learn best with pictures, and in my experience people are a lot like fruit… or vegetables.
As a follower of Jesus Christ, I am commanded to grow people, or make disciples as the Bible says. Making disciples really is a lot like caring for a garden. Generally speaking, more time spent with a disciple leads to more growth in the disciple. Time together is more important than how much you know or the quality of your plan or resources.
Making disciples involves teaching believers to observe all that Jesus has commanded. (Matthew 28:18-20) Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself. We can conclude that ultimately the goal of all disciple-makers is to aid believers in loving God and loving their neighbors, while doing the same ourselves. Essentially we are called to be growing people, who help people grow.
This takes relationship and trust and time. It takes your shadow in their life.
In our busy culture, time is not an easy thing to give up. We tend to schedule every minute of our days. In doing that we essentially schedule out the influence of the Holy Spirit who would use us to make a significant impact for the Kingdom of God. This quenching of the Spirit is something we want to avoid at all costs. So what can we do? Here are three simple things:
- Take an eraser to your schedule. Clear out some time to allow God to use you.
- Look at your current relationships and pray about who you can help grow in their love for God and their neighbors.
- Make a phone call and, if they are willing, set a regular coffee or lunch appointment with them.
Another quick piece of advice, don’t just start with a Bible study. Instead concentrate on developing your relationship with them and setting goals together for spiritual growth. This is an important time for evaluation and planning that we should never neglect.
Well there’s much more to disciple-making, but I don’t want to use all of my gardening analogies and puns in one post. Lettuce save some for another time.