Growing in Times of Ministry Drought—A Family Vacation Object Lesson

Growing in the Seasons of Drought blog picture

Children’s Ministry, like many other forms of ministry, can be prone to seasons of drought. Many of us who serve as children’s pastors or volunteers often endure long seasons where we don’t attending worship services (because we are teaching), aren’t being poured into (because we are pouring into others), face continual shortages of team members (because of enough reasons to warrant another blog post), wear too many “hats” serving in too many places (because of the same shortage of team members), and are often overlooked by leadership and adult ministry with an “out of sight out of mind attitude.”

While many times creativity, enthusiasm and growth are the song we sing, many other times fatigue, discouragement and disillusionment take over. We can become dry, weak and in danger of burn out.

This past week I have been on vacation with my family, and we have been driving through many areas affected not only by drought, but also by the stress of high temperatures. Grasses in most areas were dry, brittle and brown. But in a few places we saw patches of lush, green fields. The reason? Irrigation systems.

Some farmers were using irrigation to ensure that their crops were being taken care of and continued growing in the midst of harsh, hot, dry, stress inducing times.

As a kidmin leader, I love a good object lesson, and this one was too easy to pass up. In the dry, drought or stress filled seasons of ministry we need to be sure that we are being spiritually irrigated.

So the question of the day is, “How do we keep growing in desolate times?” Here are a few examples of how we can stay hydrated in dry times gleaned from our family vacation.

1) Faith–Trust God to fill you. Stand on His promises that He will care for you in hard times. Don’t give into the temptation to believe that your circumstances can’t or won’t change. Those plants weren’t worried about being watered, and we can trust God to take care of us in dry times as well.

2) Prayer–Pray for wisdom, strength, and refreshing. Then keep praying that God brings workers for your fields, encouragement in these end times, and joy through your trials. Just as God provided a farmer to hydrate the fields we can trust God to provide people in our ministries—after all, He was the One who told us the harvest is plentiful, and the workers are few and that we should ask Him for workers for the fields.

3) The Word–Take in the living water of God’s Word DAILY. It’s so easy to skip a little time here and there and not even realize it. Like the farmer daily irrigates his crops, be sure to take time, and make time to let God’s Word refresh you.

To be honest, sometimes droughts pass quickly, but there are times when it takes a while before the drought will pass. But we can still grow, and even flourish when we allow ourselves to be spiritually watered through on a consistent basis through faith, prayer and the Word of God.

The Man Who Waters His Trees

Living in the Midwest where we are suffering a bit of a drought, my husband recently told me about the husband of a woman he works with who has been watering his trees. Because of watering his trees, they have a water bill somewhat larger than normal. Now where we live most people aren’t big into watering. We don’t have sprinkler systems, or even those old fashioned sprinklers that sway back and forth—the kind I remember running through as a kid. We just let our grass fade away and die. I think, in part, because we aren’t too into paying big water bills.

But this man has chosen to water anyway. He’s chosen not to take the risk of losing something of value to him. His theory is that he’s going to pay one way or another, sooner or later. Either he can pay now by watering, or he will pay later when he has diseased or dead trees that need to be removed. Because then he will pay again to purchase new ones, pay to have them replanted and wait for them to grow and mature. He realizes that he will spend even more in cooling fees as he waits for his trees to grow large enough to provide shade for his home. He’s done the math and has come to realize that it is wiser to pay the price now for what he wants in the end.

I think there’s a lot more wisdom here than just whether or not to water your trees. Think about how often we just let things slide because we are hoping for a turnaround or we don’t want to pay the cost. I certainly understand that there are times when things are bad, really bad, and your choice is losing a tree or feeding your kids, so you lose a tree. But there are so many times when things aren’t that desperate, and we fail to stop to count the cost on the things that are of greatest value to us: things like our marriages, our children, our character, our witness, our prayer lives or the study of the Word. The cost seems too high, and so we wait it out, thinking that sooner or later the rain will come again, and things will be better without us having to pay a dime.

Sadly, those times often don’t come, and rather than losing some trees, we lose our marriages, relationships with God and people, or our children and the chance to help them come to salvation. It seems to me that we can learn a lot from the man who waters his trees. It was when my husband told me about “the tree waterer” that I noticed for the first time that one of our trees, in July mind you, was losing its leaves—not a good sign at all. No kidding! It looked like October in our front yard. Yet somehow I just walked right by not really caring that my tree was dying before my very eyes because I didn’t want to pay an extra $10 a month for water. Now every day I go out and water that tree—just enough that the leaves are no longer falling, and they are green again rather than brown.

But it wasn’t just the tree. I have to confess that after my husband told me about the tree waterer, I stopped to take a look and noticed that I was suffering some drought damage as well. You see, I had gotten so busy that my prayer life was a bit droopy, my relationships were suffering a bit and I wasn’t growing like I had been just a few months earlier. So I counted the cost and asked myself what I really wanted in the end, and I got to watering, deciding it was time to cut out a few good things to make time for the best things, paying the price now rather than paying the price later, and of course, growth has returned.

How about you? Are you suffering a little summer drought? Are there any trees in your yard or in your life that need some watering?