1 Again he began to teach beside the sea. Such an extremely large crowd had gathered around him that he stepped into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the beach. 2 He began to teach them many ideas using illustrations, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen! A planter went out to plant. 4 And as he planted, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it dried up. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it produced no grain. 8 Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and producing thirty and sixty and a hundred times as much.”
One of the simplest truths about ministry is demonstrated by the soils illustration. It cannot be measured by its success rate, because of the variables involved. You can do everything right, and still not succeed, because some of the variables do not depend on the minister. The seed can be perfect, the timing right, and the climate excellent, and you can still end up with no harvest. The key is the soil, and (according to the illustration), the soil is outside the farmer’s area of control. In ministry, we are often hindered by lack of response, and that lack of response is out of our control. The minister’s faithfulness is tested when that happens. The faithfulness is being measured, not the fruitfulness.
LORD, give us the wisdom to be consistent in our ministry, even when facing an unresponsive target.