Monthly Reflections – Pruning
The other day I pulled into my driveway and realized it is about time to prune my crape myrtles. When we built our home, we lined the side of our drive with crape myrtles. We love the colors when they bloom.
I get a little nervous when I prune them. It is not my area of expertise. I watch the videos on how to do it properly. I speak with members of our congregation who are landscapers and arborists. Each year, for the past 13 years, I have gone outside with my tools and pruned. Should I cut this branch and leave that one? Or, should I cut that one and leave this one? I am constantly asking Nancy, what do you think? Pruning is important. By removing the dead branches or the ones that choke out others, pruning allows the plant to place its energy on the branches that can help the plant to grow and thrive.
In his book, Necessary Endings, Dr. Henry Cloud uses the pruning of plants to show the importance of pruning in our lives and in our work. Dr. Cloud reminds us that some plants produce more buds than it can adequately sustain. To remove some allows the others to thrive. Some branches are not healthy and the plant spends energy in areas that will never thrive. Some branches are dead and get in the way of the healthy branches that are reaching for light so they can bloom. In our work, we often place our energy in areas that will never produce the desired results rather than pruning our work to enable our energy to be spent on the areas that make a real difference. These are necessary endings.
Sometimes we have so much happening in our lives that we cannot handle it all well. In our ministries and missions, I constantly share with our staff and leaders that I had rather we do a few things phenomenally well than many things half-way. This is true in our personal lives as well. We have to look at what are the really important things and focus our energy there instead of allowing the important things to suffer because we are so busy with insignificant things. Our relationship with God has eternal implications and yet is often choked out by other things. Our relationships with family and others often suffer at the expense of little things.
Pruning makes me pause to evaluate what should thrive and what should be removed so the important can thrive. It can be painful. But in the end, our lives and our energy are spent on what is important and what will bloom with beauty. Our relationships with God, family, and others are the important branches. Remember, spend your time with the people who will cry at your funeral.
I dread pruning, both in my yard and in my life. But it is vital. Otherwise, the important gets choked out and I cannot put my energy into the things that really matter. Let’s take a good look at our lives and pick up the pruners.
In ministry together,
Rev. Dr. Terry L. Moore