Mostly this blog is about news updates from our family, however while reading this morning, I thought I'd put some of my reflections of my scripture reading here regarding ministry.
One the one hand Jesus tells his disciples to go out and those who do not welcome them in, dust their feet off and leave. I read about this the other day. Then, however we have the parable of the fig tree, where the owner seeks fruit from a specific tree that has not given any for 3 years. He asks the gardner if he should cut it down so as to better occupy the land with a fruit-producing tree. The gardner suggests waiting one more year and putting more effort into this specific tree.
There is ground to be sown in ministry, sometimes it is difficult and dusty ground. There are times where ministry will not be received, and Jesus tells us it is ok to look onward and dust off our feet. This is a tough concept in ministry, because it seems like one is giving up on a person or location. In a similar situation Jesus lets the rich young ruler walk away. There are always people to visit and places to plant.
I read today, however, this parable about the unfruitful fig tree. It seems very clearly that it discusses how in ministry, one might look at fruitlessness and instead of walking away try to pour into it a little more. And if it doesn't grow fruit, then I guess it is acceptable at the time to cut your losses.
Working with people, as ministry is a relational vocation, emotions cloud the clarity of these scriptures. In fact, the scriptures cloud their own clarity in a seeming contradiction. This is where wisdom must be exercised in ministry. Knowing when to dig in deeper, water, nourish and spend the extra effort, and when to brush the dust off your feet or let somebody walk away.