Mid-summer flowerbeds can be monstrously frightening. A few months ago, the dark mulch was rich and thick. The edges were crisp, and all was clean. That was late May. Several weeks later, ugly invaders crept in. Early-fallen leaves, scorched by the summer sun. Twisted twigs, dropped by thunderous episodes of the night. Scariest of all, prickly weeds, stray vines, and rogue tree shoots had taken over. What was previously pristine now appears dastardly devilish.
Last Friday morning, I overcame those foolish fears (including my sluggard tendencies). I mustered enough courage to machete my way into the sprawling plots to take on the insidious, wicked weeds. And I was triumphant! Now, the enemies have been vanquished; the beds have been beautified once again. Eden is restored (at least for this week).
The Kingdom Work of Pulling Weeds
I am struck with the primal necessity of tackling weeds. We were originally assigned the good work of the garden (Gen. 2:15). Sadly, such garden-work—all work for that matter—was cursed following the humans’ attempted coup d’état (Gen. 3). Thorns and thistles now spring up—yes, literally—yet we dare not miss the metaphor such enemy invaders supply. The weeds and “sweat of the brow” take over what had previously been an uber-productive, marvelously creative, unencumbered workplace. All garden work—every workplace endeavor—is now a place characterized by more difficult, challenging, and even too often treacherous toil.
But greater news springs up! Because Christ’s redemption is far-reaching and will eventually transform creation altogether (Rom. 8:18-25), there is this important kingdom work of weed-pulling. God’s grand story reveals the already-not-yet nature of Christ’s kingdom. Ben Witherington III supplies engaging discussion of the kingdom in his thoughtful work, Imminent Domain: The Story of the Kingdom of God and Its Celebration. With Christ’s first coming and the inauguration of his kingdom, sin’s curse is indeed broken—and then, there’s more to come!
In all such interplay, we live with longing anticipation of all Christ will eventually fulfill, and for now we work and serve by grace. We aim to impact the world with all the good, God-glorifying, kingdom-advancement we can (Eph. 2:10). In the here and now, we boldly work to pull weeds and make room for more creative, glorious beauty to spring up.
With such realization, there are numerous areas of daily work that might be labeled “pulling weeds.” In Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling, Andy Crouch insists that “creation begins with cultivation—taking care of the good things that culture has already handed on to us.” Crouch asserts, “Cultivating also requires weeding—sorting out what does and does not belong, what will bear fruit and what will choke it out.”
Two Questions To Cultivate Your Soul
Here is a poignant, mid-summer exercise to cultivate your soul and the action of your daily work. Ask yourself these two questions:
First, what do I need to weed out of my own life and leadership habits in order to make room for the greater work of God in me and through me? (Don’t skip this painful but highly important, personal cultivation step.) What needs to be yanked from your life to make room for fresh growth?
Second, what can and should be weeded from my workplace, business, or organization to make room for greater creativity and productivity? Two corollary, sub-questions: What should we stop doing in order to do the core of our mission more effectively? And what hard decision or proposed changes have we been putting off, but now is the time!?
Pull the Weeds & Make Room
Brilliant life-strategist Henry Cloud calls this “pulling the tooth.” Too many of us put up with a nagging toothache for too long. In 9 Things You Simply Must Do to Succeed in Love and Life, Henry winsomely implores us to take action now rather than later. Make the dentist appointment. Sit in the chair and get it pulled. It makes perfect sense for your mouth, so why not in your life and leadership at work?
Muster the courage to take action on attitudes, habits, negative people, and unfruitful team practices that really need to go. Pull the weeds, make room, and experience the joy of greater growth in your own life and your workplace this summer!