5 Reminders for Ministry Leaders

In the parable of the growing seed, found only in Mark 4:26–29, Jesus says the kingdom of God is like a farmer who goes out to scatter seed on the ground. Then, the farmer goes on with his life. “He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.” And when it’s time, the farmer harvests the crop though he’s had nothing to do with its growth. 

What strikes me about this parable is the simplicity of the farmer’s job. He walks along the ground, scattering seeds. Then he sleeps and watches and waits for the seeds to grow. But when and how and how much the seeds produce is not up to the farmer. 

Because Jesus says this parable represents the kingdom of God, I see five essential reminders for ministry leaders. 

1. We aren’t as important as we think. 

Here’s the truth: I tend to think I’m more important than I actually am. I live as if God can’t accomplish His work without me and needs me to help Him. But God doesn’t need me any more than a janitor needs a dirty bucket of water. I am not needed; I am invited. If I ceased to exist, God would not falter, yet He graciously invites me to participate in His advancing kingdom much as a first-century farmer sowed his seed. 

We are not (and never will be) the seed grower. 1 Corinthians 3:7 says, “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” The problem is, we like to measure success in ministry by growth and numbers when that part is not in our job description, nor can we take the credit for it. The success of any kingdom-building work is God’s doing. We are simply here to faithfully sow the seed whether we think it will grow or not.

2. The seed is the Word of God. 

It’s God’s Word alone that is alive and active and sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12) and able to penetrate the crusty soil of a sinful heart. Is it God’s Word we’re busy planting, or are we mainly sowing luncheons and game nights and family fun and appealing presentations? I’m not saying we need to stop having fun or even lower the quality of our events, but if the fun is void of the Word of God, then we are not planting growable seeds.

3. Spiritual growth is gradual. 

There are three human activities in this parable: sowing, waiting, and trusting—all of which are important and necessary. Yet, we live in a fast-paced world that doesn’t like to sit still. We want results, and we want them now, but growing crops takes time. James 5:7 says, “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.” 

The kingdom of God is not a short sale or a thirty-day fix. Sanctification is a process, just like an ear of corn—“first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear” (Mark 4:28). Results take time, and to be honest, we’re more likely to steal the credit when a ministry expands quickly. But when a ministry grows over time, we’re more likely to see God’s hand and give Him the glory. 

4. There will be a harvest. 

The farmer in this parable had no idea how it happened, but somehow his crops grew into a flourishing, ripe, and ready harvest, offering every willing seed-sower this promise: the harvest is coming. We have no reason to throw in the towel. God’s Word does not return void but always accomplishes His purpose (Isa. 55:11). When we sow the right kind of seeds—it’s the right kind of plants that will grow. “For whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). 

5. Sowing the Word may feel insignificant, but it’s not. 

We don’t need to sprinkle the Bible with Miracle Grow to make it more effective. We just need to present God’s Word! This parable is just as true today as it was two thousand years ago because the Word of God is just as powerful today as it was then.

Though many have tried to detain it, reject it, and call it obsolete—God’s Word has not lost its effectiveness or efficiency. We owe this world zero apologies for what it says. Nor is there any reason to hide verses or make excuses—God can take care of Himself. 

As believers, our allegiance is no longer to this world; our commitment is to the Word. God isn’t asking us to figure out a way to make it grow. He’s asking us to believe it, live it, and plant it. And if a believer is willing to sow the Word of God, over time, it will grow, even when we can’t see how. 

The lack of growth in Christians today is not because we lack programming, money, or even influence. The lack of growth is due to our failure to sow the seed. It’s God alone through the Word alone that can produce real and lasting change in a depraved and sinful heart. Don’t hesitate to speak the Truth. Believe it; live it; plant it. Then wait, trust, and hope in the Lord who makes it grow. 

About the Author

Stacey Salsbery

Stacey Salsbery

Stacey Salsbery is a farmer’s wife and mother of four—or as she likes to say, “President of Home Operations.” Stacey loves teaching women the Bible and along with her family makes her home in the cornfields of Indiana. For more, … read more …

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