Stephen Covey was a highly respected author and business consultant. His success was built, in part, on his ability to reduce complex issues affecting human behavior into relatively simple concepts that could be understood and then put into practice.
In his book, First Things First, Covey asked,
Can you imagine “cramming” on the farm? Can you imagine forgetting to plant in the spring, flaking out all summer, and hitting it hard in the fall — ripping the soil up, throwing in the seeds, watering, cultivating — and expecting to get a bountiful harvest? Cramming doesn’t work in a natural system, like a farm. . . .But in the long run, the Law of the Farm governs in all arenas of life.
Covey was right, you know. Cramming doesn’t work on the farm or in most of the important areas of life. Character development, an effective prayer life, physical health and a host of other vital aspects of life cannot be developed through cramming.
Neither can stewardship training and education. And therein lies the fundamental difference between the “Effective Stewardship” program and most other programs that deal with stewardship. “Effective Stewardship” is not short-term in nature. It is not “cramming” via a fund-raising drive that lasts two weeks, four weeks, or even six months. It is not an emphasis on a special project designed to culminate in a special one-time offering.
It is a long-term approach designed to train people to be stewards. For that reason, its emphasis and concern is not on next Sunday’s offering as much as it is on the offerings two or three years down the road — or more. The “Law of the Farm” is at work here as we carefully plant, water and cultivate the truths of the Word of God and as we allow the timeless principles of Scripture eventually to bring about a harvest.
And just as the farmer doesn’t pull a plant out of the soil to see how the roots are developing, we should not continually try to scrutinize each and every aspect of stewardship training and development. We need to learn the “Law of the Farm” and to allow the truths of God’s Word to bear fruit in the lives of those who hear and read them through the “Effective Stewardship” program.
As you evaluate the long-term value of the “Effective Stewardship” program in your church, remember the “Law of the Farm.”