Leadership in the Garden: The Power of Pruning
Each spring I look forward to planting my vegetable garden. It is a hobby of mine that helps me to unplug, and soak on what is going on around me. I have found that as I spend my weekends playing in the dirt, God uses the time to teach me much about life and leadership. This summer, I am writing about those lessons each Monday in a series I am calling Leadership in the Garden.
Yesterday was pruning day for our tomato plants. Over the course of ninety minutes, Theresa snipped and tossed nearly half of the branches of our tomato plants. By the time she had finished, they were far less bushy, far more compact, and ready to start cranking out tomatoes.
The idea behind pruning seems a little counter-intuitive at first. You would think that a healthy, growing bush should be left alone to do whatever it wants. While leaving our tomatoes alone would still produce fruit, it will be far more productive because we stripped away those branches that will not produce fruit. By removing the non-producing branches our plants are able to focus their energy into the fruit bearing branches… allowing them to grow a great deal of the fruits that will find their way into our salads and tomato sauces in a few weeks.
As I have been soaking on the idea of pruning this week, I keep coming back to John 15:
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
We were created to be fruitful, and our Father is constantly at work in our lives, pruning away. In the same way, I believe that we, as church leaders, need to be actively engaged in pruning as well.
- Schedules: Trust me, you can’t do everything that people want you to do. We need to regularly stop and prune our schedules… removing items that steal our focus away from what we need to be about (two helpful posts on this: from this blog and from T.J. Addington).
- Habits: I have found that there are seasons in which certain habits are helpful to me, and seasons when they aren’t. There are times when the daily office helps me to focus for several months, and times when I need to pursue other tools in my day to day devotional life. Regularly going through my habits and asking “is this helping foster vitality and freshness in my faith” allows me to make adjustments as needed to maintain vibrancy in my faith journey.
- Private World: Regularly asking, or being asked, about what lies beneath the surface of our lives helps us to prune the non-fruit bearing thoughts, practices, and addictions that keep us from being all that we are intended to be. I have found it helpful to have friends come alongside me and regularly help with the pruning process by asking me tough questions that I sometimes would rather not answer.
How are YOU actively engaged in pruning YOUR life?