I grew up on a farm in southern Indiana. My father was a farmer and both my grandfathers, who lived nearby, were farmers. Every summer during the hottest time of the year we would put up hay. On a good day we could put up over one thousand bales, each weighing approximately one hundred pounds. As the tractor pulled a wagon we would load the bales onto the wagon stacking them five or six layers high. Although it was hard work it was exciting for a young boy. When the long day was over as the last bale was stacked in the barn someone would say, “That’s the one we’ve been looking for.” That was a great relief and also a sense of accomplishment. It felt good to have worked hard and to have accomplished something of great value.
There are many comparisons of the Christian life from the farm. Jesus spoke often using different aspects of farming to illustrate various truths. This is true still today. The reason someone would say, “That’s the one we’ve been looking for,” is because it meant the job was finished. That reminds me of our work in the ministry. Every day our goal should be to finish the task at hand. It is gratifying to know you have finished the job for that day. If we continue to accomplish our daily tasks for a life time one day we hope to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful . . . enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” – – Matthew 25:23. Everyone does not finish the task at hand by reaching the lost and building a church. There are many pastors that become causalities along the way. Every preacher must learn the value of finishing the job.
Another aspect of baling hay is learning the importance of working hard. As a young man it was a struggle to get those bales up on the wagon. Whenever the layers got higher the worker on the wagon would reach down and help pull it up. I always wanted to throw it as high as I could to show how strong I was, but there was usually the need for someone to help me eventually. The ministry is a spiritual work that requires tremendous effort for preachers. The work of the ministry is not often manual labor but preachers must put in long hours and great effort to build a church. After working hard on a long day it is rewarding to know that you did your best throughout the day.
We must work hard in the ministry but we must also recognize when we need help. Baling hay is not a one man job. Someone must cut the hay and rake it into rows and later someone must operate the tractor and baler. After the hay is baled it must be put on a wagon or truck and taken to the barn where it is stacked and stored for the winter. I don’t ever recall one man doing all these tasks alone. Usually a team of men were required to finish the job. The ministry involves building a team of volunteers that are committed to work hard. One man is limited on what can be accomplished but with a good team of men the work is much lighter and much more is accomplished.
It seems the time to bale hay is the hottest time of the year. Frequently the temperature was one hundred degrees in the field and in the barn one hundred twenty degrees. Often in the barn there would be wasp nests and many times someone would get stung by a wasp or a bee. Other dangers occasionally cause an accident where someone was seriously injured. Baling hay is hard work and it sometimes has its dangers. Although the ministry involves trials, had work and problems you must not quit until you have finished the job and can say, “That’s the one we’ve been looking for.”