OUR CONNECTION MATTERS
“It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers….”
1 Corinthians 3:7-9a (NLT)
In my early years in ministry I served as the associate pastor. Let me say thank you to the person who was handed the responsibility of serving as my senior pastor. Benjy Varnell, I will always appreciate the many things I learned about serving a church from you! Thank you!
As associate pastor, my primary responsibility was youth, followed closely by anything else the senior pastor asked me to do! As youth pastor, I worked with two other pastors in the community to organize youth events that included youth from multiple churches. One young man in the community was on the fringes of the youth group at another church. He would attend the big events, but never seemed to want to be involved in the regular events or in learning what it meant to follow Christ more closely. He seemed like someone who would graduate from high school, move away to college, fall away from the church, and probably never return.
Several years after I moved on to another appointment, I was back in town for a funeral. The mother of this young man was at the funeral. She looked for me after the funeral specifically to thank me. I wasn’t sure why she wanted to thank me. I felt that we had somehow failed her son. She thanked me for all that we, the three ministers, had done for the youth in the community. She went on to say that she knew it looked like her son wasn’t interested in anything more than the fun activities. She said she wanted me to know, and to share with the others, that he had been watching us closely. He was watching to see if we would live what we taught. He was watching to see what we did when we weren’t leading a youth event. He was watching to see what we did outside of church. And what he saw led him to respond to God’s call to ministry. She wanted me to know that he was going to be a minister.
Wow! I certainly didn’t see that one coming! But it made me think about Paul’s words to the Corinthians. Paul planted, Apollos watered, and God made the seed grow. I carry that story with me even now, years later, for several reasons. It reminds me to consider the seeds I’m planting. Am I planting seeds designed to produce a harvest or a crop of weeds? Also, I’m reminded that people are watching. Am I being intentional in the ways I live out my faith publicly so that I set a good example of Christian grace and love? And, finally, I’m reminded that I can’t be all that is needed for a seed to be planted and grow. It took three ministers – a Methodist youth minister, a Baptist youth minister, and an Episcopal priest – to plant the seeds in that young man’s life. Someone else unknown to us watered those seeds. And God made the seeds grow.
We accomplish far more together than we can ever accomplish alone. When you plant seeds, trust that God will send someone to water what you’ve planted. When God calls you to water someone else’s seeds, do so with joy. Together we serve the same God and we have the same purpose – to share the good news of Jesus Christ with all who will listen!
Dr. Nita Crump serves as Director of Connectional Ministries. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.