I was looking through some old articles and I found this one that I wrote two and a half years ago. A lot has happened since I wrote this, a lot of which I had no idea was coming. But because of doing the things I described in this article, I feel confident in saying the harvest is finally here again! I hope this can be an encouragement to you, no matter what season your ministry is in.
Here is the original article:
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV) 1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.
I am about to make one of the most humbling statements any spiritual leader can make. Are you ready, here it comes…
My church and my youth ministry are both in a sowing season.
I had two separate conversations last week, one with a youth worker and one with a senior pastor, and both of them were relieved to hear me say that. To be able to admit it, not be ashamed of it, and not just give the token “things are fine, we are growing” pad answer.
The truth is you cannot always be in a harvest season, but for spiritual leaders (especially youth workers) it is very hard to admit if we aren’t. In Mark chapter 11 Jesus has a little run in with a certain fig tree:
Mark 11:12 – 14 (NIV) 12The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.
My question is this: what made Jesus so upset? Obviously he didn’t hate trees—but he was teaching his disciples a very important lesson. Jesus was upset because the tree was not being true to the season it was in. If a fig tree has leaves, it is supposed to have fruit. But “it was not the season for figs.” The tree was faking it, there was no fruit but it wanted everyone that looked at it to think there was. It couldn’t admit it was not harvest season.
To state it bluntly: if you or your church or ministry is not in a harvest season, don’t try and fake it, just admit that you aren’t. Believe me; I know how hard it is to do that. But it is OK to not always be in a harvest season, as long as we do the right things when we aren’t.
What do I need to do once I admit I am in a sowing season?
I don’t have all the answers, but here are a few things God has shown me as I walk through my own sowing season:
Seek God more than you ever have before
Reading scripture, prayer, solitude, fasting… All of the above-at the same time!
Jeremiah 5:24 – 25 (NIV) 24…‘Let us fear the LORD our God, who gives autumn and spring rains in season, who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.’ 25 Your wrongdoings have kept these away; your sins have deprived you of good.
During those times ask God for wisdom on what needs to be done or changed to bring on the next harvest. It may be something that needs to change about you. It may be something that needs to change in your church or ministry environment. Just be open to the truth when God speaks it (and remember God speaks in a still small voice, so you have to slow down to hear it)
I am not a farmer, but I do understand what has to be done in the times between harvests. If you don’t plow, cultivate, fertilize, and plant new seeds the next harvest will never arrive.
Proverbs 20:4 (NIV) 4 A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing.
Once God speaks to you about what needs to be done or changed to bring on the next harvest, you have to actually do it. Make the sacrifice, have the hard conversation, do whatever it is that you have been putting off. Often times we know what needs to be done, we just drag our feet until it is too late or too much damage has been done. Do the work God needs you to do to move forward.
Keep going and give God your best no matter what
2 Timothy 4:2 (NIV) 2Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
Even if you are not in a harvest season, God still needs you to be faithful. The people that make the biggest spiritual strides during your sowing season will be the leadership during the next harvest. Anyone can be a good pastor and/or leader when everything they touch or do is turning to gold, be an even better pastor/leader when things aren’t going right.
The encouraging thing is that in all three of these passages, it implies that another harvest is right around the corner. I have faith and trust in God that he will bring another season of harvest, and until he does I will keep trying to do the right things for the season I am in.