Most people are interested in productivity. But the Bible doesn't use the word "productivity;" instead, you'll find the word "fruitfulness."
God wants us to have fruitful ministries, so I want to show you some principles that will produce a godly fruitfulness in your life. I believe there are four conditions that are essential for a fruitful ministry:
1. You must cultivate roots. God says there's no fruit without roots. You need roots particularly when your resources are limited, for when times of drought come along.
Drought, as you know, is a long period without rain. We had one here in California that lasted seven years. A drought in your life is whenever you have to do without something you need, perhaps time, energy, money or support. There will be times of drought in your ministry; perhaps you're even in one now.
2. You must eliminate the weeds in your life and ministry. The weeds in your ministry, and in your life, are any things that hinder or limit your spiritual growth. Weeds are the things that choke your relationship to Christ or that prevent you from further growth.
How much effort does it take to grow weeds? None at all!
You don't have to cultivate weeds. In fact, that's the difference between a weed and a vegetable. Even though you feed, water and cultivate a vegetable, sometimes it still dies. Pay no attention to a weed and it grows!
Weeds are a sign of neglect. I've found that when I neglect my quiet time, when I neglect my personal maintenance like walking and staying physically fit, and when I neglect key relationships in my life, the weeds start to grow and begin choking my productivity.
3. You must cooperate with God's pruning in your life. What is pruning?
Pruning not only involves cutting off dead branches, but living ones as well in order to improve the shape of the plant and stimulate growth. Pruning is essential for increased productivity. It's not optional. If you're going to be productive in ministry, God will put you through times of pruning.
God prunes you for fruitfulness. In your life it's not only the dead wood that God cuts off; He also cuts back areas of success, EVEN areas that are bearing wonderful fruit.
When He does this you might struggle to understand why, but the reason is He is preparing you for even greater ministry.
4. You must wait for the harvest. Growing fruit takes time. It doesn't come automatically. You don't plant a seed in the ground and harvest it the next day.
It's common sense: seeds must be planted. You've got to cover them up with dirt, and then you wait and pray and expect growth.
Just as a seed creates new life out of death, for you to be more effective in your ministry there's a dying to your old nature, a dying to your own desires and ambitions in the waiting process. Growth takes time, but don't give up. Stay plugged into Jesus Christ.
Maybe you've been dormant in your ministry for some time. My prayer is that you'll give yourself to Christ, saying, "Lord, I want to work on these four things: cultivating my roots, eliminating the weeds, cooperating with Your pruning, and waiting for the harvest. God, I trust You with what I've planted, and I trust what I have sown will inevitably reap a harvest for You."
That is the law of the harvest.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.
For the original article, visit pastors.com.
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