I have a black thumb…not a green thumb but a black thumb. When people bring me plants, I feel bad for the plants because I know they will certainly face an early demise. When I lived in Raleigh, I tried almost every year to plant flowers at my house. There is something about the spring that makes me want to plant things but by the end of June, often earlier, they were dead. And while I usually killed off any hanging baskets I purchased as well, the soil at my old house was not conducive to growing things. It was rocky with a lot of clay and the sun never hit the house just right either. I know I sound like I’m coming up with excuses, but it is true.
Last year, I had great hopes for my new house. My plan was to wait and see if anything popped up in the backyard, something the former owners had planted. As I looked around the neighborhood, it seemed that these were people who planted for the future. I was certain lush plants were going to come out of the ground.
Something did start coming out of the ground. It was just green though and I kept waiting weeks for something to flower or blossom, or even for the green to seem to take shape. It wasn’t happening and I began to think that the backyard, which seemed to be calling me to plant things, had nothing planted in it but weeds. I decided before I could plant my new flowers, I needed to kill the weeds that seemed to be coming up.
Only they weren’t weeds at all. I hadn’t given them enough time to start blooming, which of course they did just days after the leaves began to look burnt from the weed killer. These beautiful day lilies began to blossom in the midst of the fried, yellow leaves I’d tried to kill. Since I’d harmed the leaves, the flowers didn’t stay very long. They’ve never fully gone away, just stood as a half-living reminder of my attempts to kill the “weeds.”
But I’ve kept watering these plants every night (after watering my tomato plant and hanging basket that I am keeping alive, thank you very much), hoping the water would flush out the toxins in the dirt. Last week I noticed a few new green leaves growing and then this happened…
Right there in the middle of burnt dead leaves, a little bright orange flower popped forth.
Sometimes as leaders, we think we know what is best for an organization and we work hard to kill something we don’t feel is the best idea. And often, leaders have to kill something for a different thing to begin blooming, but sometimes we try so hard to kill an idea or a ministry and it just keeps coming back. Theologically and in regards to best ministry practices, we are right about wanting to kill it off. Sometimes even in the middle of the dead, one thing just keeps coming back. And often it causes more damage than good to try to kill it off again. You just have to let it bloom and know that as your nourish the soil, other good things will come with it. It takes real wisdom to know what is just an annoying plant that does not seem to be producing flowers as quickly as you want and what is really a weed that will cause damage to new growth.
So, pray for wisdom to know the deadly weeds from the misshapen, or slow to grow plants. Keep watering the soil and then celebrate what grows. When that flower that you kept trying to kill keeps coming back, find a way to enjoy it. Most importantly, find rest in the fact that you don’t own the garden but are only given the task to taking care of it for awhile.