We reap what we sow. It’s a biblical principle found in Galatians rooted in the issue of sin, but I’ve found it applies to most areas of leadership in the church. The scenario I mention below is a generalization, for matters of the Spirit are not mechanical—but rather dynamic. Nevertheless, in general, we reap what we’ve sown. I don’t like this truth very much, because at times I’d rather shrug my shoulders in wonderment or blame others. But, I’m at least one of the primary farmers at our church–so this truth holds me accountable–as it should.

If you plant pumpkins, you get pumpkins. If you plant pears, you’ll harvest pears. It’s common for leaders to wonder where all the young pastors went, or why they can’t get their churches to X or Y—or their staff to work harder, be more focused, etc. The best answer for each such situation is—because that’s what has been planted.

If your church allows gossip and dissension to grow unfettered, don’t blame the people first. We planted it. If the staff isn’t functioning as it should, don’t blame them. We planted it. If the church lacks evangelistic fervor, don’t just blame them. Take responsibility for what’s been planted and what has been nurtured. If a farmer stood back and wondered why corn was growing in his field, we might wonder if he understood farming at all. The best answer we could give him is, “because someone planted corn.” Corn doesn’t grow by itself–and it doesn’t grow where strawberries have been planted.

If we wanted strawberries instead of corn, we should have planted strawberries and nurtured conditions for growing strawberries. If we ended up with corn, we should not blame the corn for growing, we should blame the farmer for planting and nurturing it.

Here’s the good news. We can replant. We can, with time, sow missional fervor, unity, honesty, generosity, and good things. We can plow under gossip, distrust, spiritual sloth and aimlessness. In its place, we can plant good things.

Crop turnover takes time. But start. Sow what you want to reap, because we’ll reap what you sow.