I learned a lot of lessons while growing up on a farm in Indiana. In addition to the work on my parent’s farm I enjoyed spending a lot time helping with my grandparents’ farms as well. My summers were filled with plowing and planting and in the fall harvesting the crops and butchering some of the animals. While growing up in this rural community I learned some valuable character qualities that greatly influenced my life.
Some of those qualities included the importance of hard work, adjusting to trials, and being faithful to complete my assigned tasks. It was nearly impossible to take a vacation because of the daily responsibilities. Someone had to care for the animals every day. My grandparents milked cows which meant twice a day they had to be milked. If you were sick or injured the cows had to milked regardless of your illness.
No wonder so many children growing up on a farm were stable and hard working. These virtues were learned during their childhood. Farmers do not move around much; they tend to stay in one place and do the same thing every day for their entire life. This consistency was a necessary part of farm life.
The small family farm has vanished and farming has become a big business. Stability is something lacking in our modern-day culture. I remember young men in the city would have paper routes where early in the morning they would ride their bicycle around the community and deliver papers. It is difficult for young people to find similar responsibilities today that would develop strong character.
Stability and responsibility are greatly needed in the ministry. Too many preachers lack that steadfastness exhibited by the farmers of days gone by. A preacher that leaves a church in less than five years cannot even begin to build a core of people. Building a church requires years of establishing a biblical philosophy, training leaders, and gaining the confidence of the church family.
Strong character leads a pastor to stay during adversity, work hard regardless of the results, and remain faithful for a long period of time. One of the most important ingredients of a strong church is the longevity of the pastor. Staying in the same church for decades doesn’t necessarily result in success but staying for a few years cannot produce a strong and stable ministry.
There are many comparisons of the ministry to the farm. Preparing sermons and lessons is a weekly task that requires faithfulness. As a preacher, I understand how preaching requires emotional involvement, not just academic teaching. A true man of God seeks to help his people grow from every single message. You can give your all on Sunday morning and evening, wear yourself out in the service and Monday morning you have to begin to prepare for Wednesday, and after Wednesday you must begin to prepare for next week-end. The pressure of the ministry continues every day and every week. Men must realize this is the reality of the ministry and there are no shortcuts or easier ways to build God’s church.
We must bear the yoke of the ministry, gladly realizing the eternal purpose for which we labor. Farming does not affect eternal results but preaching will have eternal results.