There is a scarlet oak in my back yard that I planted as a bare root sapling. Currently it is 10 to 12 foot tall but it was a glorified stick a few years ago.
My family gave me some good natured teasing about the stick that I planted. It really didn’t look like much. Nor did it even look like it would survive after our golden retriever puppy chewed it off sometime during the first year after it was planted.
But it did survive and is thriving. It gives every indication that in the coming years it will become a beautiful tree.
Trees grow slowly and one has to be content with allowing the tree to grow at its own pace. I could overfeed it to try to make it grow faster, but that would likely kill the tree. All I can do is put the tree in the right environment, make sure it has enough water and wait. The tree will take up nutrients and water at the right pace to keep growing.
There is no magic program, no magic sermon series, no magic seminar that will cause instantaneous spiritual growth. Growth happens at a pace that is slower than we might like.
I certainly have found this to be true in my own life. Sometimes I think that I should be farther along in spiritual maturity but when I look back, I can see the slow, steady growth that has already taken place.
If you are a church leader and you are frustrated with how fast growth is taking place in your church, think of an oak tree. They do not grow fast, but they are strong. If you are a small group leader or Sunday School teacher, think of that oak which slowly absorbs the nutrients and water and grows as a result.
If we are faithful in teaching Scripture and faithful in living out what we know, if we are faithful in loving God and loving our neighbors, then those in our care will be getting the food that they need to grow.
I am reminded of the words of Paul,
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6, ESV)
Think of trees. Tall trees. Strong trees. Trees that will weather the storm.