There is a corn field I pass on my way to work each morning. Last spring as the ground was being prepared for planting I thought of the parable of the sower (Luke 8:4-8). The ground was tilled and soon I saw rows where the seeds had been scattered. Each week there would be changes and I began to considered how the corn field was like the fields we tend for the Lord.
The crop began to grow and I noticed the corn in the center was tall and green. The plants on the edge of the field were green, but shorter and not as bright in color. As the season progressed, some of the stalks on the edge began to turn brown and others struggled hard to grow. My attention was drawn to the lush, thick, green stalks in the center and the sweet corn I knew they would soon produce. I sometimes wondered why the farmer didn’t water the edges more so all the stalks would yield a good harvest.
Summer arrived and we experienced record breaking heat. The field began to dry out. The stalks at the edge died quickly and even the thick, green stalks in the center showed signs of the rough weather. The farmer must not have cared for his field because after only a few weeks I looked at what was once lush and green to see it had become of sea of brown. The stalks were dead or dying. The corn had not been gathered. The work this farmer had done in the spring was now wasted and no good had come from it.
A few weeks later I noticed the field had been cut and the dead stalks were gone. It had become a barren, uninviting place to see. However, the empty field was soon covered in bales of dried corn plants. I smiled as I realized that the plants would serve a purpose, though not the original one intended, and the work had not all been in vain. The farmer is now preparing the field for winter and I anticipate a new crop will be planted in the spring with the hope of a great harvest next fall.
When someone is asked for a philosophy of ministry they often say the Great Commandment and the Great Commission (Matthew 22:37-40; Matthew 28:19—20) guide their path. Likewise, if they have been in church life, they might say the goal of ministry is to reach, teach, and minister to the people. Both of these descriptions are correct, but they do not reflect the nuisance of Christian ministry as seen in the growing corn field.
The process begins with the farmer getting up early to prepare to go to his field. Ministers of the faith must also prepare themselves through regular time in study of God’s Word and prayer. The fields must be plowed so the seeds can take a firm hold in the soil.
For the ministry to grow deep roots, relationships must be built with the people we hope to reach. The field needs to be watered, weeded, and watched for consistent growth. Likewise, we must consistently care for all the people and not only those that are most receptive or willing to serve. The people on the edge of the church may require extra attention, but it will help them grow to be fully devoted followers of Christ.
If everything goes well then the corn will grow large and the harvest will be full. There will be seasons, however, when the fields do not grow and we watch our labors fall to the ground. In ministry these may be the times of greatest personal growth and spiritual renewal as we call upon the Lord for His leading and help. If we remain faithful (1 Corinthians 9:24) we will be given new direction and the ministry will continue to grow. Ministers must remain open to change.
The final stage of the corn field is preparing for the future. Just as the farmer prepares the field for next year’s harvest so must we prepare for the future. Leadership development and mentoring in a Paul and Timothy manner is essential for the continuity of ministry within the church. Every minister should have someone they are mentoring and someone that mentors them.
For me if comes down to loving God and loving others. If I love above all else then the fields will be white for harvest.