Thriving like blueberries
Between several thunderstorms and a significant amount of work on this week’s three worship services (Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday), I managed to get one of my blueberry bushes planted today.
I was kneeling over a large hole in the ground (sporting my garden chic overalls) and mixing peat moss and amendments in with the topsoil, when it occurred to me: blueberry bushes have something to teach me about being a pastor.
But first, we need to understand the blueberry bush.
A blueberry bush prefers an acidic soil with good drainage, a lot of sun and at least six weeks of near-freezing temperatures in the off-season.
Can a blueberry bush live without these things? Sure. But a blueberry bush won’t thrive without them. And when I say “won’t thrive,” I mean that the bush won’t produce fruit.
Every time I preach on John 15 (the vine and branches passage where Jesus challenges us to bear fruit), I remind those who are listening that bearing fruit isn’t something the plant decides to do (or not do). And an apple tree doesn’t sit around discerning whether to produce plums or pears.
Bearing fruit – as illustrated by the blueberry bush – is the natural result of a thriving plant. (As well as some very helpful bees.)
I know what it takes to create the conditions for my blueberry bush to thrive: some organic additives that increase the acidity of the soil, some peat moss, and some mulch.
As a pastor, there are also things I can do to create conditions that will encourage the parishioners I serve to thrive.
I am neither naïve enough nor prideful enough to suggest that I have control over another person’s ability to thrive … but I also do not underestimate the pastor’s (or teacher’s or parent’s or sibling’s or spouse’s) role in nurturing and encouraging such flourishing.
We each have the ability to help create conditions (in whatever setting in which we find ourselves) that will help others – and ourselves – thrive. I suspect we don’t often recognize our own ability to do so.
Are you thriving? Are you encouraging others to flourish and bear fruit?