“I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” 1Cor 3:6,7 NLT
In this passage, Paul lays out some amazing truth for us. The reason for Paul to be writing this point was that there were people in the church of Corinth that started to have an unhealthy mentality about who Paul and Apollos were. In the hearts of the people, they were beginning to elevate both Paul and Apollos to a place of greater importance than Christ. They were starting to say “I am a follower of Paul, or I am a follower of Apollos” (v4) Paul goes on to say who are Paul and Apollos? Are they not servants of God who believed the Good News? I love how he ends verse five. He says,” We each did the work God gave us”. That’s when he jumps into our focus scripture. What was the job given to both Paul and Apollos as leaders? Verse six says that it was to plant and water the seeds of Gods design and purpose in them. God then, is the one who makes it grow,
Imagine driving down a highway. What your going to see on either side of the road are barriers meant to protect you from driving off the road and into a possible ditch. Just like that highway, it can be very easy to fall into a ditch theologically when it comes to leading the church. There can be two major points that cause problems if not viewed correctly. One being man’s responsibility and the other Gods sovereignty. There is a tendency within the human condition to try to bypass as much responsibility as possible. Just ask Adam. When God confronts Adam and Eve, for their disobedience to His commands, Adam blames his wife almost immediately. We can, at times, put way too much emphasis on the sovereignty of God. We can end up not doing anything with what God has given us, and has asked us to do, and end up saying things like “Well if God wants it He will have to do it.” Now, what could be wrong with that statement? Of course, God is sovereign. Of course, God wants people to be saved, disciples and empowered into their giftings, callings, and ministries. So could it be that God is waiting for us to follow through with what He has asked of us? The second ditch is putting way too much faith in our own abilities. Maybe you have heard somebody say once “God helps those who help themselves!” That’s in the Bible right?…wrong! As a leader, nothing kills gifting, anointing and blessing faster than striving. Becoming a soulish leader, instead of a Spirit-led leader, is a recipe for disaster. I’ve seen many people become very disillusioned with God, with the church and ministry because of this issue. I can even attest to the drudgery life becomes when we make our ministries and lives based solely on our performance.
I do believe that there is a sweet spot we can live in. This is where we faithfully obey what God has required of us but wholeheartedly trusting in His miraculous power to move in our churches and through our churches. We see in 1Cor 3:6,7 that Paul sowed the seed, Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. God is a covenant, God. Covenants require two or more willing parties to follow through on specific terms at times based on the other parties following through. Essentially, you do X I will do Y. God is always faithful to His promises. If we do what we can do, He will do what we can’t do. God alone can change the human heart. He alone can cause someone to come to saving faith in Jesus. But we can preach the gospel. We can love and serve someone, showing them the kindness and grace of Christ.
I don’t know if you know any farmers, but I do. In all my life I have never heard a farmer say that he or she wasn’t expecting a harvest after they had planted the seed. What a funny conversation that would be. ” Hey what did you plant?” “Corn”, they replied. “Wow, looks like your going to get a huge pull this season!”, you say. “No, I am not expecting anything to come from this”, they say. “Your telling me that you planted all that seed, your spreading gallons upon gallons of water on your field and your expecting nothing?”, your reply. You would be absolutely stunned with confusion. I don’t see any reason to treat the Gods working, and our obedience to leadership in the church, any different. We can have a significant amount of confidence that when we sow, and water God will bring the increase. However, there is one more dynamic that is vital. Harvesting.
When we talk about harvest in church circles we most often think about souls being brought into the kingdom through faith in Jesus. That is true, we are called to the work of the harvest in seeing lost people come to faith. But what happens once someone is saved? Are they now just supposed to show up at church service faithfully until Jesus comes back? Of course not! They have a gift, a calling and a ministry that God wants to be harvested in their lives for His glory. It’s our responsibility, as leaders, to help draw it out of the people we lead. Jesus referred to this in Mark chapter 4. Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. The earth produces the crops on its own. First, a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.”(v26-29 NLT) We are the farmers Jesus is talking about. We are sowing seed faithfully into people’s lives. While we sleep or while we are awake the Holy Spirit is working on the seed. If there is one thing that I will probably never understand it is how God can change a human life. Some of us struggle with changing our socks let alone changing our lives. But God is an expert in this area. Soon the seed sprouts and begins to grow. Then the leaf begins to push up through the ground beginning to form a head of wheat. Soon the grain ripens and is ready to be harvested. But who harvests? Does God? Or do we get to enjoy the work of God in someone’s life and receive from the gift, calling or ministry deposited in them by the Lord.
No matter where you are at in your life or ministry God can and desires to work in you and through you. Maybe you feel like your stuck in a ditch. Possibly one like I described earlier. Know this, God is as close to you as a whisper. I always find it interesting that Gods voice was referred to in scripture as a still small voice. He never had to yell. Because He is never far away. Maybe there are some changes in your life that are needing to take place? Have you been trying to do Gods job? Are you tired in your soul and losing the passion you once had for doing the work of the kingdom? Or maybe you’ve been expecting God to do your job and are missing out on the blessing and fruitfulness that God desires you to walk in? Whichever scenario applies to you I can tell you this, change is possible. It is not too late and you haven’t gone too far. There is a beautiful opportunity to begin to co-labour with the Lord in His plans and purposes. God is for His people and there’s a lot more He is wanting to do in our day. Join the fight and fight to win. Blessings!
Pas Bryan Pue
Executive Assistant at Latitude Ministries