What Gardening Can Teach Us About Success

One children’s book I particularly delight in reading to my son is Mercer Mayer’s A Green, Green Garden, from the Little Critter series. In this story, Little Critter is excited to help his family plant a fruit and vegetable garden from seeds and participates in every aspect, from sowing to harvest time. A Green, Green Garden

The one quote in that book that stands out profoundly to me is this: “Each day we weed, water, and wait. It feels like years go by.” And from the illustration in the book, I don’t think Little Critter looks too enthusiastic about garden care as he’s waiting for something to grow.

A garden really is a microcosm of the rest of life and its enduring principles. Lately, I’ve noticed how quickly the days on the calendar are going by, yet accomplishing certain goals seems to move much slower.

We stay on task daily for whatever our project or pursuit is, yet the outcome either seems small or delayed. Can anyone relate?

Waiting for results

A friend of mine is selling her house and has felt frustrated by the slowness of the whole process.

Recent rains have stalled the weeding, pruning, mowing, and fertilizing our yard and plants need. And it’s not just the plants and grass. Recurring rain this spring has delayed our goal of restaining our deck to paint over some damage left behind from winter.

We recently replaced all four of our garage door springs after two broke only two months apart. This unexpected and costly repair has meant a slowdown in our plans to update our kitchen.

An organization I’m volunteering for has been frustrated by delays in getting necessary permits from the city of Cleveland for an event they want to hold in August. The cause of those delays? The Cleveland Cavaliers’ recent playoff run. (I’ll leave the story of that city’s longsuffering from a championship drought to the sports bloggers!)

The principle of plodding

A book published this year by Rob Morgan, pastor of The Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, TN, recently caught my attention because of its focus on purpose and productivity.

In Mastering Life Before It’s Too Late: 10 Biblical Strategies for a Lifetime of Purpose, Morgan writes an entire chapter on “Practice the Power of Plodding,” or the net effect of persistently working toward our goals in increments.

Plodding. That’s a word the dictionary defines as proceeding in a tediously slow manner, though Morgan defined a plodder as “someone willing to get his feet wet and wade through the mud and mire to arrive at his destination.”

“Most of our accomplishments occur little by little, day by day, step by step, here a little and there a little. Jesus told us to be faithful in little things, for those who are faithful in little are faithful in much,” Morgan writes.

As I ponder the idea of plodding through each day, I realize that unfinished business is not something to dwell on to the point of discouragement. We just keep pursuing the goals even if we have to make some adjustments.

What are you trying to accomplish and still waiting to see results? Getting any vegetables to grow? Finding a new job? Teaching a child a new skill? Perhaps trying to learn a new skill? Getting out of debt?

Have the tasks seemed endless and the results meager? Let’s visualize what our desired outcome ought to look like and what needs to be done to get there. That may also mean letting go of the mental time frame we had for completion and making room for patient plodding.

Then, let’s all keep weeding. And watering. And teaching. And making those phone calls. Or whatever activity is necessary to reach our goals. And let’s do so incrementally each day.

Because as Morgan notes in his books, increments add up and compound into big results.

One thought on “What Gardening Can Teach Us About Success

  1. Judy Doozan

    I’ve been on an adventure this morning (!) …from the book, Prayers and Promises for Worried Parents, to looking on-line at robertJjmorgan.com to this blog! (Oh, I also looked at the bed and breakfast site in Roan Mt., TN). I’m so grateful for the internet when it leads me down a delightful path such as this! Can’t wait to share this with my daughter-in-law, who loves gardening and the rich insights God has taught her over the years. Thank you!

    Judy Doozan


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