A few years ago, Andy Rooney expounded on gardening in his time slot on “60 Minutes.” He described those who garden as “quiet nurturers” and as those possessing “great patience.” And then he gave this counsel:
“If you are going to have flowers in your garden by summer, you are going to have to plan ahead, do some work, and then be prepared to wait for the results. Most of us don’t have that kind of patience. Politicians certainly don’t. Politicians promise to make the world better by tomorrow. Politicians lack the gardener’s patience.”
That got me to thinking about similarities between the “Effective Stewardship” program and cultivating a garden. If you are going to reap a harvest from your “stewardship garden,” as Andy Rooney might have put it, “you are going to have to plan ahead, do some work, and then be prepared to wait for the results.” But, like the politicians Andy Rooney described, most people cultivating stewardship programs don’t have “the gardener’s patience.”
Perhaps that’s because basically, we are impatient people. We are used to two-minute microwave popcorn, digital cameras with instant photos, and fast food drive-through restaurants. Most of us are not used to waiting for anything, and we don’t like it when we have to do so. Our motto might be, “Lord, give me patience, and give it to me right now” — even for things that have the potential to produce a rich harvest of eternal rewards.
Last April, I got out the tiller, changed the spark plug, lubed the machine, added fresh gasoline, and then prepared the ground in my wife’s vegetable garden. The soil was easy to work because of something I did late last fall. In October, after the first heavy frost, I tilled the soil, and then I covered it with leaves.
All winter long, those leaves were decomposing and breaking up the soil like millions of little hoes. This spring, I benefitted from last fall’s work. In just a few weeks, I should be enjoying home-grown tomatoes and peppers from that wonderful soil.
By using the “Effective Stewardship” program in your church, you have taken a giant step towards improving your situation by training your people to be stewards. But as Andy Rooney put it so well, ” . . . be prepared to wait for the results” as you ask God to give you “the gardener’s patience.”