One of my favorite Super Bowl commercials in recent memory was this commercial by Ram Trucks, using Paul Harvey’s 1978 speech “God Made a Farmer.”
My grandfather was a farmer in Illinois. Though he passed away many years ago, my respect for him has not waned. He started farming at a young age, while still in school, and farmed his whole life. He farmed corn and soybeans and raised pigs. I have memories of riding with him to take large loads of pigs, carried behind a pick-up truck on a trailer, to be sold. When I was a boy, President Ronald Reagan visited the family farm. (Attached is a picture of my uncle with President Reagan). My uncle now runs the family farm with his son, my cousin. Just like my grandfather, they farm with incredible wisdom and work ethic.
I agree with Paul Harvey. God made farmers. He uses them to care for His creation and provide food for humanity. And just as God made a farmer, He made a ministry leader to provide care for the church of God. The apostle Paul used the metaphor of a farmer, alongside a soldier and athlete, for leading in ministry. He wrote to Timothy:
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of civilian life; he seeks to please the commanding officer. Also, if anyone competes as an athlete, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer ought to be the first to get a share of the crops. Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. (2 Timothy 2:3-7)
With Paul’s metaphor in view, here are three lessons from farming for ministry leaders:
1. Be patient.
Farmers are incredibly patient. They plant and work the fields and wait before the time of harvest. Ministry is the same way. There is a lot of planting before the harvest comes.
2. Be disciplined.
Farmers understand the rhythms of their work. With great discipline, they plant, they care, and they harvest. They do the same important things over and over again. Ministry leaders must be disciplined to repeat the important work over and over again. To preach from the same Book continually. To love people unceasingly. To set clear direction over and over again.
3. Be hardworking.
The Scripture calls the farmer the “hardworking farmer,” and for good reason. Farmers are the epitome of work ethic. If they don’t work, their families don’t eat, and they won’t be farmers for long. The greatness of the mission demands that ministry leaders be hardworking. A ministry leader who is lazy is a ministry leader who has lost passion for Christ and His work.