We Are Growing Trees
“You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion.”
So said G. K. Chesterton in Tremendous Trifles. Dissent if you wish, but he was right.
Young men are often impetuous and young preachers particularly so. Their zeal is admirable but they are easily discouraged when they have not the whiskers to match the length of their vehemence. So they have to tarry at Jericho (2 Samuel 10:5), but that is time well spent if they learn the lesson.
Pastors are tasked with “perfecting the saints” (Ephesians 4:11-12). They are charged with a flock, which they must lead and feed so that they grow and mature. Growing things don’t typically grow in great leaps all in a moment. They grow slowly and consistently over time. If we are not paying attention, it might seem they grew overnight, but that is not the case.
Christians are compared to growing things in the Scriptures such as wheat. They are more often figured as trees—palms, myrtles, cedars, and willows. The maturing child of God is likened to a tree in Psalm 1. It takes time for trees to grow tall and strong. There are no real short-cuts.
I once had a boss who liked to say, “The best time to plant an oak tree is twenty years ago. The next best time is today.” Growing up with mine reclamation has taught us that grass can be grown quickly. You can spray the hydroseed on the mountain side and have grass very quickly. I guess if you are interested in quick results, hydroseeding is the way to go. But, brothers, we are not growing grass. We are growing trees.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not whither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
~ Psalm 1:2-3
The maturing Christian is a tree with deep roots that drinks from the rivers of water. His leaves are green and he bears fruit in season. He grows through the Word of God and little by little he is stronger and taller. It takes time to grow trees and it takes time to grow saints. Patient plodding is the only way.
Young pastors are frequently discouraged because they overestimate what can be accomplished in one year and underestimate what can be accomplished in five or ten. Sometimes they erroneously conclude there is nothing more they can do and they must move on to somewhere else after a short while.
Take heart and have patience. We are growing trees. Trust in the Spirit to do His work and trust in the Word of God. Be committed to faithful exposition of the Word and know the Spirit will take the edge of that sharp sword precisely where it needs to go. Jonah’s gourd came up in a day, but it was also withered and gone the next. Desire fruit that will remain to the glory of God’s name.