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Leadership and Gardening

Image: Martin Knize

Let’s consider something we can all relate to – the difference between a sermon that carries an obvious blessing of God’s favor and one that does not. The mechanical sermon may be homiletically sound, well crafted, and provide solid and helpful information. But no life change seems to take place. The God-anointed sermon, also well crafted, carries with it the power and presence of the Spirit of God. The difference? One was engineered solely by man, and the other was created by the Spirit of God, using a person to write and deliver the words. One can be quickly put together at anytime – a joke, three points, and a poem. The other comes from life with God – intimate time with the Father. One can be done on Saturday night; the other simply can’t be rushed.

Organic leadership is about being real. You must be honest with yourself, with God, and, with those you serve. Organic leadership is also about your leadership being connected to the vine. John 15:5 says: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Churches can be built in the flesh, but churches that have eternal redeeming value must be built by the power of the Spirit. This happens only when we are connected to the true source. You can lead without God’s help, but not well and not for long. Take the time you need to hear from God. Fight for the margin needed to remain in the vine.


Growth comes from intentional pruning.

When I prune our bushes I get out the clippers and start hacking way. My brother told me about something called “natural target pruning.” This is where you carefully find the next point of growth on a branch, usually at a joint, and make the cut at that spot. When you merely hack at whatever sticks out the furthest, apparently this confuses the plant. This is not how nature handles pruning. When nature prunes, the whole branch or a complete section dies off, making way for new growth. When you cut a live branch in half you “confuse” the plant!

A wise church leader knows that pruning, though painful, is needed to grow a healthy church. We don’t like to cut popular ministries, but in order to allocate limited resources more strategically and gain better results; we must lean out our ministry options. A more difficult example is cutting a staff member, or removing a volunteer from their ministry so the church as a whole can move forward.

There are less drastic forms of pruning that are also health and growth oriented. For example, let’s look at pruning in the form of correction with a quality leader in your church. Any living thing allowed to grow any way it wants becomes unruly and unproductive. Ask any parent about allowing their kids to do anything they want. Leaders like plants (and kids) need shaping as they grow.

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Category: Ministry, Spring 2017

About the Author: Dan Reiland is executive pastor of 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He is the author of Amplified Leadership: 5 Practices to Establish Influence, Build People, and Impact Others for a Lifetime (Charisma House, 2012), Shoulder To Shoulder Strengthening Your Church By Supporting Your Pastor (Thomas Nelson, 1997), and From a Father's Heart: Letters of Encouragement to Children and Grandchildren (Thomas Nelson, 1999). Twitter: @DanReiland

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