Two analogies: a soldier focused on his commission, an athlete building to fulfill their calling, and finally a….
Farmer (With a Target) 2 Timothy 2:6-8, 6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. 7 Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this. 8 Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained.
Here is an analogy that we are used to talking about at the crossroads, where over coffee the most common topic of conversation is the weather, where you are talking about the hard work that goes into producing a harvest, it is a way of life. Yet, just listening in my ignorance of farming, there is one conversation I have yet to hear—“Hey guys—I’m just going to wing it this year—I’ll plant the seeds that I happen to come across—I’ll just hope for enough to get a harvest, to pay the bills. There was no booth at the Farm Progress Show called—“JUST WINGING IT.”Every year requires paperwork, planning, a target, buying inputs in hopes of hitting the output goal. Paul tells us to live with the harvest in our heads. Paul who famously wrote, I planted, Apollos water, but the Lord made them grow—He is willing to go through all the work—not just to quit two weeks after planting, he is willing to wait until harvest season—because he remembers that Christ has died and been slain so that the Gospel can be set free.
I married into a farming family. My father-in-law Dean is an engineer by education, but quit being an engineer to take over the family farm. He is passionate about farming. I haven’t met many people who work harder than he does. He has a weekend job to provide insurance for his family, to ensure that he is able to continue farming during the week, takes vacation time to plant and harvest. Yet, as Dean looks towards the next generation, he finds that there really isn’t anyone who will carry on the family farm. He was honest about his fear—saying, “he felt like he was going to be betraying past generations if he was the one to lose the family farm or stop the legacy.
It hit me a couple weeks ago, as I was driving through the fields, thinking about his situation, that he actively trying to respect the past by farming with the future in mind. That is the very same thing that Paul is asking us to do as we think about everything around us—live with the end in mind, lead with your sheep in mind, serve with the success of Christ in mind—honor the past by living for the future! We do no service to the legacy of the church by failing to pass our faith on to those reliable men and woman who are ready to become disciples. Jesus tells us where our calling needs to be focused, He told the people, “what you do for the least of these, you’ve done for me.”
Where is God whispering for you to take a step forward, to embrace your calling of walking alongside someone? In his book A Work of Heart, Reggie McNeal recognizes that God uses culture, community, communion, conflict, and the commonplace to shape every leader’s heart and define his or her calling. He writes, “The call is a mystery. It begins and ends with God, but it loops through a very human individual. It is personal, but bigger than the person. The call comes out of who we are as well as shaping who we are. It has both being and doing components…Those who describe themselves as called mean that they have made a commitment of life into God’s service, to be at his disposal, to be in his employ for the efforts of accomplishing his agenda.” It is important to know that each Christian, leadership title or not, has a specific calling on his or her life. You don’t have to look into the clouds or into vegetable soup for answers—God’s word has already told us what our calling is—Make disciples—if you have an hour a week, you have what it takes to start the process! If you eat at least one meal a week—you have what it takes. It is time that we live with the end in mind!