“And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.””
(Mark 4:26-29 ESV)
As we engage in ministry, whether it be as pastors, missionaries, or lay people, we find ourselves falling short of the expectations others have for us. Why aren’t more people joining the church? Why aren’t more people coming to faith in Christ? Why aren’t more churches being planted in the United States? Why aren’t more churches being planted around the world?
We often find ourselves on the receiving end of the blame. These things aren’t happening, we’re told, because we’re not doing our job well enough. Perhaps if we worked harder, things would be different. Perhaps if we were replaced, the next person would do a better job and accomplish more.
We have the same tendency as those pointing their finger at us. We place the blame upon ourselves as well. We tell ourselves that, if only we were better preachers, things would change. We tell ourselves that, if only we were more cool, hip, rad (insert your own description here), things would be different. We tell ourselves that, if only we worked harder, things would be different.
One of the hardest, yet most refreshing truths of ministry is that we can only scatter the seed. We can do nothing more. We cannot cause the seed to sprout or to grow. We cannot cause it to turn into a full grain in the ear.
It’s the hardest truth of ministry because we want to think that we can do something. If fact, we want to have a role to play in results of our ministry. We want to be able to take credit for good things that are taking place. And we have to get over ourselves. We have to acknowledge that, although we scatter the seed, it’s not we who produce the growth.
However, it’s also refreshing. And it’s refreshing because we can simply scatter the seed without feelings of guilt or blame. We can scatter the seed, as we’ve been called, entrusting the results to God.