What Can Tree Roots Teach about Ministry?

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Tree Roots growing deepScientists who study trees have determined that a tree’s roots grow outward to about three times the spread of its branches.  Roots have a vast network underground that is largely unseen.
We never consider a tree’s roots unless a problem unearths itself.
Maybe hurricane force winds threaten the structure of a tree.  Maybe erosion along a river exposes the roots to the elements and the tree looks like it’s just barely holding on.  Or maybe some sort of disease or infestation attacks the roots, jeopardizing the entire health of the tree.
Tree roots develop, survive, and flourish where there is adequate oxygen and moisture.  Essentially they need water and space to dive down deep in good soil.  However, in compact soil, the roots grow close to the ground surface, increasing the vulnerability of the roots and therefore the tree.
So what does any of this have to do with children’s ministry?  Everything.
I don’t know about you, but often times I forget that the saving work of my ministry is what happens before I leave the house.  It’s in the quiet study of the Word of God, the stillness of prayer, and the heart of worship that brings action to words of praise.
Problems in our ministries will come.  They may be hurricane force winds with children and their parents, our own staff and leadership, our church family, and maybe our own family.  Or maybe the issues will look more like quiet erosion; unearthing our patience and withstanding.
Without ensuring that we have adequate breathing room, our roots will be shallow.  Things may appear held together, but underneath the surface, our foundation is skewed.   Without the Living Water drenching us and absorbing into our soul, our roots will be dry and irritable; our soil shallow.  It is not unlike the familiar parable of the soils.  Plants wither without good roots.
Jeremiah 17:7 also speaks to this very principle,

“Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him [and not himself].  They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

However this finds you today, I hope that you know how valuable your ministry is.  I hope that you know that lives are being changed by Christ in you, whether you can see it or not.  I hope that you know that your work is worthwhile.
I also pray that as you have labored hard, you will take time out for yourself; for much-needed rest, encouragement, and soul care.  Find some breathing room, drink the water of the Word, and send your roots down slowly and far.  You have given much.  Now the most valuable thing you can do is receive; from Him who has given you life to the full.

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