By Shannon Reese
In past summers, I planted eight to ten tomato plants in my garden. I loved watching the vines grow up and out as they were watered and reacted to the heat of the summer sun. As the leaves filled out and the branches expanded, I felt like a real gardener! But year after year, when the 50-70 days of maturing had passed, I’d be discouraged by the ratio of fruit to leaves.
How is it that I had such big plants with so many leaves and so little fruit?
Our yellow lab LOVES tomatoes. She has always sniffed out the ripest tomatoes before I could get them off the vines. Maybe I just wasn’t fast enough?
Then a friend recommended I start pruning the suckers.
After a short video tutorial and a FaceTime chat with my green-thumbed friend, I decided that this was the summer I would prune my plants. So, I began regularly walking my garden, scissors in hand, looking for suckers.
Because the suckers are useless vines that “suck” the energy and nutrients away from the fruit … not produce more fruit. If I pruned the suckers, the existing vines would get the nutrients they needed and bigger and better fruit would be produced.
Fast forward a few months.
I’ve just finished another summer growing tomatoes and I can honestly say that pruning the suckers has resulted in bigger and better fruit than I’ve had in years past.
For many of us, this past season or two has been filled with pruning we didn’t expect or invite. With COVID-19, God has allowed our lives to be pruned, piece by piece, branch by branch, in order to reveal that which is most fruitful.
In John 15, Jesus tells His disciples that His Father, the Vine Dresser, is all about pruning what is producing good fruit so that it will bear more fruit.
I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.John 15:1-2
As leaders, it’s important to recognize that growth requires pruning.
A reduction of what is good for what is great.
An elimination of activities or attitudes that draw energy away from that which gives our lives meaning.
A cutting away of that which is useless to make space for that which is purposeful; a removal of the temporal to make way for the eternal.
This week, as you ponder how you want to grow in this next season, consider these questions:
- What has been pruned from your life this season?
- How has the removal of these things affected your growth: personally, relationally, spiritually?
- What still needs to be pruned?