One morning a man sat on his porch and watched as a landscaping company’s truck pulled into his neighbor’s driveway and parked. Two workers got out of the truck and both grabbed shovels from the truck bed. The man on the porch then stared in wide-eyed wonder as one worker systematically dug three holes in the neighbor’s yard and the other worker came right along behind and filled in those holes. Once the job was completed, both workers threw their shovels into the truck bed, climbed into the truck, and started backing out of the driveway.
By now the man on the porch could no longer contain his curiosity. He raced off his porch, intercepted the truck in the street, and asked the worker sitting on the passenger’s side to roll down the window. The worker obliged, and the man asked him, “Would you mind telling me why one of you just dug three holes and the other one filled up those holes?” The worker said, “Our boss told us to plant three trees in that yard, but the fellow who was supposed to bring the trees and put them in the holes didn’t show up for work today.”
I have to say that this illustration hits a little too close to home when it comes to church work. If the stated goals of Christ’s Great Commission are evangelism, discipleship-making, and baptizing (Matthew 28:19-20) we oftentimes do everything but actually plant those three trees. This is how we become “keepers of our aquariums” rather than “fishers of men.”
Even in our personal lives it’s good to do self-assessments every now to identify unproductive activities. Speaking for myself, I’ll admit that too much of how I spend my days and nights doesn’t get any trees planted. Sometimes I don’t even get any holes dug. At my worst times, I don’t even show up for work.
Does God make allowances for times of rest and leisure in our lives? Absolutely. Is a week spent on vacation, a Saturday spent shopping, or an afternoon spent fishing automatically time spent out of God’s will? Nope. But do most of us have useless fat that could be trimmed from our daily routines? Yep. Actually, when you think about it, it’s a tall order not only to do the Lord’s work but also to do it in an efficient manner. It requires never wasting an opportunity to strike a blow for Christ. It requires focusing more upon His kingdom than your kingdom. It requires using the entirety of your life’s resume in service to Him.
Right now, Christian, take a moment to ask the Lord to show you any activities that He would have you eliminate for Him. While you’re at it, also ask Him to point out any areas wherein you are actually working for Him but aren’t doing it efficiently. Digging holes and filling up holes are both necessary jobs, but if no trees are getting planted you obviously need to work smarter rather than harder. Remember that you only get 24 hours per day. Be sure to use each hour and each day wisely. This is one of the marks of true discipleship.