From Spring to Fall, Monday morning typically finds me mowing my lawn. As good a job as I can do, it always grows back and requires weekly attention. But truth be told, I find it to be good therapy.
One of the challenges of pastoral ministry is that people are always in process. Spiritual growth is internal. You don’t see quick results. You sometimes wait years to see significant changes. You seldom see a finished product.
Mowing the lawn provides instant results. As I progress up and down the rows, I see quantifiable before and after evidence. When I apply weed & feed, the grass seems greener in two weeks and the dandelions don’t make an appearance. After a two-hour walk behind the lawn mower, I can take pride in a job well done.
As a pastor, I spend all week preparing a sermon. After delivering it, I receive a few “good sermon, Pastor,” comments, but I cannot tell if it sunk or not. In some cases, it may be weeks, months, or even years before a change is evident. The typical measures of pastoral success, attendance and giving, don’t really measure success. They simply tell me how many people were present and how much they gave. They don’t indicate whether or not growth is taking place.
Taking care of the lawn reminds me of the need for faithfulness. If I skip a week or two of mowing, the grass is taller and harder to mow. If I neglect applying the weed and feed, the grass turns brown and the weeds take over.
Pastoral ministry requires faithfulness as well. If I take shortcuts in sermon preparation or skip praying, the results will eventually show up in the lives of people. I need to be just as diligent and even more so, before people are much more valuable than a green lawn.
Another therapeutic benefit of mowing the lawn is that it gives me time to think. I evaluate my sermons. I think about needs of people. I make and revise plans. I dream about the future. I pray for people and ministries.
Time to fire up the mower and begin another therapy session.