I’m on vacation this week back in my home state of Minnesota. Even though Stephanie and I haven’t lived in Minnesota for a decade, I don’t think I’ll ever stop thinking of myself as a Minnesotan. I grew upon a farm in the south-central part of the state, eight miles from the nearest town. I knew from a very early age that farming wasn’t going to be my chosen vocation. I didn’t mind the hard work, but I just wasn’t mechanically minded. And if you didn’t know, more than half of a farmer’s time is spent fixing things that are broken be it tractors, trucks, or some specialized piece of equipment that most people don’t know exists.
Despite not wanting to be a farmer and not being gifted with the skills to be a farmer, such an upbringing has been incredibly useful in ministry. As a farmer, you have to learn to go with the flow. Sometimes it rains and you can’t do the work you had planned on. Sometimes something breaks and you have to take the time to fix it. Sometimes prices are good and you have to sell the corn and the beans that are in the bin. Sometimes prices are terrible and you have to tighten your belt and wait. Farming is a life of patience, a life of persistence in the face of uncontrollable factors.
The same is true as a pastor. Sometimes a member is hospitalized and the things I had planned have to wait. Sometimes people are broken spiritually, and they need healing. Sometimes attendance and giving are up and things look really encouraging. Sometimes they are down and things look a bit bleak and desperate. In each circumstance, pastors simply have to keep moving forward, doing the work that is given to them, serving the people they have been called to serve.
My farm upbringing has taught me many valuable things including the need for flexibility, patience, and hard work in the face of things beyond my control. This is a reality for both farmers and pastors. Such lessons promote a dependence upon God to provide the growth, both in the field, and in the church.
God’s blessings on your week.