I have been noticing how plants and people are alike. Nature can teach us many lessons about growth and health. I am by no means an expert gardener, just an observer. There are some parallels that can be drawn, useful for spiritual growth in discipleship:
Plants have enemies: ranging from windy weather, scorching sun and various insects or worms – they need protecting and defending. Often they are unsuspecting and hidden and their damage can be spotted quite late. Spiritually speaking we can become exposed to either the pagan godless and futile thinking of this world or the false theological doctrines that move away from from a Christ-centered Biblical revelation.
- Do you know those ‘enemies’?
- How do you spot them?
- What measures do you take to avoid their spiritual damage?
Plants need watering: although they can look absolutely superb today, you can wake up the next morning and be surprised how much they have wilted. Yesterday’s water is a distant memory. The harder the sun shines the more often they need the water. You watch and check – rather that than relying on previous experience. Same for our spiritual growth. No water no life. No Bible feeding, no Spirit – filling, no prayer and we slowly die. The more pressures – the greater the need for refreshment.
- How do you check your spiritual ‘feed levels’?
- What can you do to keep your freshness?
- How do you prepare yourself for when the ‘heat’ is on?
I also have a couple of considerations for leaders.
- Rhythms of disciplined care make a huge difference. If I let the grass grow longer than it should and miss the scheduled cutting time – everything gets messy. The work is harder. Wise pastoral maintenance can be easily seen is a dull and unattractive. Yet a consistent praying and loving the people you serve – is still the healthiest way to nurture and encourage them.
- Weeds grow fast, stealth like and dealing with them is an unspectacular and tedious job. I never cease to be amazed how weeds have both mechanisms of light-speed multiplication as well as deep and spread out roots. A pain to deal with. Same with sinful attitudes in us and those we serve. It requires observant spirit, patient love and consistent deconstruction of sinful patterns that are of either cultural, demonic or fleshly nature.