Are you in a winter season? Look to the harvest that is to come.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. ~ Gal. 6:9
My wife Kristin and I are members of a large garden near our home in Northern Virginia. We enjoy seeing its transformation through the seasons. In spring the garden is resplendent as tulips, daffodils and other flowers appear, and delicate cherry blossoms bloom. In summer, it is lush and verdant offering sustenance to Monarch butterflies, yellow finches, Eastern blue birds and others benefiting from its bounty. In the fall, majestic oak and maple trees take center stage with a breathtaking array of color, as the garden’s other plants fade to autumn tones.
Scripture reminds us: “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” (Gen. 8:22)
Each season is indeed remarkable. However, the season I want to focus on is winter. With everything gray and cold, winter can seem like a lost season. But it isn’t. In fact it’s vital for the garden.
The Washington Post on Feb. 9 featured an article on gardening by Adrian Higgins. Its evocative title was, “Savor the stillness of winter before all heaven breaks loose.” In it, Higgins noted the importance of winter: “Buds break into growth based on whether the parent shrub or tree has received enough of its winter chilling hours along with sufficiently warm temperatures. Because the chilling needs differ by species, spring is a progression of awakenings over several weeks.”
Did you catch that? The stillness of winter and its “chilling hours” precipitate future growth.
It reminded me of a past visit to the spectacular Huntington Gardens in southern California. Located near Pasadena, home of the annual Tournament of Roses Parade, it features more than 1,200 varieties of roses. While visiting there, I spoke with a gardener who explained that in this perpetually temperate climate they must at times artificially chill rose buds to prompt them towards new growth.
Even in that seemingly perfect climate, winter is vital for new growth.
I like the advice Higgins offered on treasuring winter: “So what may look like the depth of winter is actually a moment that is slipping from our grasp. For those of us who like winter as a period of rest and stillness, I offer this advice: Put down the garden fork for a while, stow the wheelbarrow and just wander about the garden to perceive those precious February moments.”
I love that perspective. It applies not only for gardeners. It is also important that we as Christian nonprofit leaders embrace the moment we’re in.
So what about you? As a leader, do you feel you’re in a winter season?
The good news is that a winter-like season can be a time of rest, recharge and redirection in which God prepares you for what is ahead. Take this time of stillness to go deep in your relationship with the Lord. Don’t rush ahead. Embrace this season, and the work God is doing in your life.
How about your ministry? Does it seem to be in a season more dormant than fruitful?
What feels like a winter season can be a time when God is preparing beautiful new growth to burst forth. So don’t get discouraged. Hold on to God’s sovereignty and love. Be faithful. Depend on the Lord, and remember Christ’s encouragement: “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)
Enjoy the winter seasons of life with hope, knowing they play a part in the harvest yet to come.
Scott Brown is vice president for leadership experiences and resources for Christian Leadership Alliance (CLA), and editor-in-chief of CLA’s Outcomes magazine. He holds master’s degrees in Communications: Journalism and Public Affairs from The American University and in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College, as well as a bachelor’s degree from Liberty University.
Whatever season a leader is in, they are still learning and growing. Christian Leadership Alliance offers a credential program that equips leaders in the eight core disciplines needed to lead a nonprofit with excellence. Learn more about the Credentialed Christian Nonprofit Leadership (CCNL) program and how you can start earning credit for it by attending the Outcomes Conference 2017.