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Monday, April 26, 2010

Pruning fruit

Sunday morning, I was checking Facebook and ran across a post by a good friend, Joe Argo. Joe was our worship/associate pastor 10 years ago in Fort Worth. A great guy, he's moved on to bigger and better things back in South Carolina. His post read something along the lines of his fruit trees are finally producing, but the books all say to prune off the first year's fruit because the branches are too weak to sustain the crop, and he didn't know that he had the heart to do it.

This really made me stop and think. In the New Testament, Jesus often talks about bearing fruit, about knowing believers by their fruit, and about pruning off branches, etc. - all illustrations that would be readily understood in a country of vineyards.

I thought about baby believers - after all The Crossroads is full of them. They often jump in really hard and fast into ministry. This is a great thing, but it can lead to burn out if they are not carefully mentored. I thought about needing to prune the fruit off the baby trees and thought about how often I advise new believers to pick one or two ministries to be involved with in the beginning and to go slow about committing to big things long term until they have tried a variety of ministries and have discovered how God has gifted them. It seems that pruning back on too many activities leads to better maturity and more depth. But it is very hard to tell new believers to slow down. I don't ever want to dampen their enthusiasm. I'm guessing those are similar emotions to what Joe felt about pruning the fruit off his trees.

I also thought back to having to occasionally support an overloaded branch on a fruit tree as a kid. We would have to put a forked stick under a branch sometimes to keep them from breaking under the weight of too much fruit. I think that in the Christian life there is a great need for the forked sticks. Believers who are producing lots of fruit, and are leading very busy, active lives in the ministry need people to help them bear the weight of their life. The weight of a fruit bearing ministry is exciting - a good harvest, WooHoo! But even an exciting and positive great weight can become too heavy for one person to carry. A good helper can alleviate the stress and the burden that the minister may be under.

I don't know that this is an "aha" moment for anybody else, but it seemed to make sense to me. So careful what you post on Facebook - you never know when you will become a blog.

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