For any of us who are interested in achieving our full potential and life purpose in God, pruning is a vital life process that will take us there. Pruning is an horticultural/agricultural term describing the removal of that which is unfruitful, unhealthy or dead in order to release a greater life supply to that which remains. From the farmer who wants a greater harvest to the winemaker who desires a vintage wine, they understand pruning is necessary. In his book, Necessary Endings, Dr. Henry Cloud says it this way, “Pruning is necessary, natural, and beneficial for anything that is alive.” This includes relationships and our modus operandi (the way we do things) in business or ministry. If I want more, better, greater, abundance in any area of life, some things must come to an end. Pruning is a proactive ending.
Dr. Cloud goes on to explain, “the areas of your business and life that require your limited resources—your time, energy, talent, emotions, money—but are not achieving the vision you have for them should be pruned.” We should always be pruning toward something. That something is God’s revealed will and destiny for our life.
Gail and I are in a season of transition. This season and the accompanying changes we are making require pruning. A wise winemaker will know pruning the vines must be done in the right season otherwise a harvest may be spoiled. In nearly 40 years of ministry together we have seen good fruit from our labor. But we have an insatiable desire for more, much fruit and fruit that remains (John 15). We are ready to be pruned and to prune.
God is leading us to cut away certain methods we have used in the past in order to see better results in the future. One example is the way we have gone about preparing people for ministry. In the past we have invested thousands of dollars to bring church leaders and workers together for a few days of training. (Not to mention the multiplied hours and energy that goes into these meeting). There has been little effort put into the vetting and selection process; neither has there been much deliberation into evaluation and following up the results. These meetings have produced limited results. Pruning removes limitations.
Jesus was intentional about who He selected to be His successors. Paul exhorted his spiritual son Timothy to be discriminating on who he poured his life into (2 Tm.2:2). Both are good examples to follow. For this purpose we are pruning to produce better fruit in the SPRINT Schools we offer through Doulos Global. Going forward, anyone in whom we make an investment of our resources (time, energy, anointing, finances) will meet specified scriptural criteria as learners (see previous blog on SPRINT Schools). Consequently, our times of impartation will be more concentrated, interactive and transformative. And, best of all, we will be more intentional about following up on the relationships with these faithful men and women who will teach others.
Another area that requires pruning is our relationships. We are commanded to love everyone. We are not called to work with everyone. All of us have experience with people who are consumers only – they suck life out of us and add nothing to us or anyone else. Typically, these people don’t want to grow or change. There is a godly way to withdraw from these relationships. Again, Jesus is our model. He withdrew often from the multitude to be with His chosen few. His results speak for themselves.
In this season, God is repositioning Gail and I for increase and greater fruitfulness. We are affirming, reconfirming and discovering relationships God has placed in our lives. We may relate to all, but will only partner with some. A partner is one with whom we share in a giving and receiving relationship. These are the kind of relationships we all need and desire. If you are reading this you are probably a partner with us in reaching the world with the Gospel. Thank God for you!
I encourage you to share in the grace of God’s pruning in your life. It may be a painful and unpleasant process for a while but after it will yield “the peaceable fruit of righteousness.” It’s our destiny to be fruitful FOR HIM!
You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. John 15:16 NAS