5 Lessons for Ministry from the Tobacco Patch

What 5 lessons for ministry did I learn from my time in the tobacco patch? Read more and find out.

You’ve never itched until you’ve cropped “sand lugs” from a worn and wet fiberglass seat on a tobacco harvester. “Sand lug” leaves grow near the bottom of the stalk and are covered with dirt and grime. Pulling these leaves from the stalk and passing them through the conveyor belt to the”panner” causes the sand to work its way into some unseemly spots. Like I said you’ve never itched until you’ve cropped “sand lugs” from a fiberglass seat that needed replacing three seasons ago.

Growing up in the south my summer days were filled with an itching bottom and a red neck. I spent my summer vacation cropping tobacco (it’s pronounced tah-backer in the south). In the mornings, we would unload a barn of cured leaves. We emptied the tobacco into burlap sheets to make it ready for the market. (The aroma of dried tobacco leaves still lingers in my mind.) When the barn was empty, we would head to the fields to fill it up again. Although it was only a few weeks out of the summer, it seemed like a neverending cycle. But I am grateful for the lessons I learned in those fields. Experiences, which prepared me for a life in ministry. Here are five lessons I learned and how they relate to gospel ministry:

  1. A grain of sand in the wrong spot will make you miserable, but keep on cropping because things tend to work themselves out.

    In ministry, you will be rubbed the wrong way by things that really don’t matter. You will feel it’s unbearable. However, you can let the little situations prevent you from working for the Lord. Keep cropping. It will work itself out.

  2. When it gets hot, learn to pace yourself.

    Temperature affects your production. If you’re facing a season of heated confrontation, remember not to run full speed ahead, or you’ll get burnt. The pressures of ministry will cause even the most seasoned worker to burnout. Slow down and pace yourself.

  3. Enjoy the simple pleasures in life (like an RC Cola and MoonPie).

    Nothing was more satisfying than a twelve-ounce soda and a snack at break-time in the fields. You’re not designed to work nonstop. Take time to enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

  4. If you disagree with someone, get it right before the end of the row.

    In the tobacco patch, teenage boys (and girls too) would often argue back and forth while on the harvester. Everyone knew if the matter was not resolved by the end row things could escalate into an all-out fight. In ministry, you’re going to have disagreements, but make things right before it gets out of hand.

  5. Always help others gather their crops.

    The farming community where I grew up helped each other. I remember times when one crew was finished but went to help another farmer to get his harvest in on time.  As a minister, I should never leave my fellow pastor to work alone. Christians should help others.

Again these are only a few correlations between the tobacco patch and ministry. I am sure there are more, but these will do for now. What about you? Did God use a former job or situation to shape you for ministry? I would love to hear your story in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Wednesday in a Baptist Church

What’s so special about the last Wednesday night of the month in a Baptist church? (Well, at least at West Green Baptist.) Read to find out more.

The parking lot is usually full, but in the summer the cars dwindle. Come early, and you will witness covered dishes lugged from vehicles to the social hall. In the colder months, the scent of hamburgers seasoned with a deacon’s special blend of spices drifts through the air.  It’s the last Wednesday of the month at a Baptist Church. It’s Family Night.

It may seem like an excuse to eat a meal for some. However, it’s far more than food. It’s about friendships. Gathered around the folding tables people share about their day. Conversations can range from the weather to delicate difficulties a person is facing. Yes, to some it may look like a reason to loosen your belt, eat your fill, and sip sweet tea. But this meeting is far more important than that!

A pastor mingles checking the pulse of the people. He offers a quick joke to a few and a word of comfort to others. Brothers and sisters in Christ laugh and tell stories of bygone days. It’s more than a potluck dinner. This gathering is the sharing of each other’s life. Genuine relationships blossom on Family Night.

How many meals did Christ share with His followers? There are several instances found in the Gospels. Still, scoffers complain that it’s just an “eating meeting” and they miss the blessing. One should never underestimate the power of a Baptist casserole. For the last Wednesday night of the month in a Baptist church is sometimes the most ministry-filled night. It’s Family night.

I Love My Church Family

I Love My Church Family

It’s the 24th day of my June Blogging Challenge. So what am going to write about today? My mind keeps drifting to my flock at West Green Baptist Church. I am privileged to pastor these people. They’re not perfect. They are broken people, but I have jagged edges too. Nevertheless, we are traveling this road of faith together.

We are learning to be gracious to each another as we continue to conform to the image of Christ. I love them for their honesty. I love the fact they allow me to be honest with them. Of course, we still wear some fig leaves, but we’re learning and growing in our intimacy.

I know some deny the importance of church family, but I cannot imagine my life without my church. I am their undershepherd who cherishes having the smell of sheep on my clothes. If you’re a pastor, you understand. It is the most demanding occupation at times. However, it is one of the most rewarding challenges in my life.

My church family inspires me to be my best. Keeps me accountable. Encourages me. Challenges me. They do life together with me. I am grateful. West Green Baptist, if you’re reading this, I love walking this journey called life with you.

What about you? Where do you fellowship? I would like to hear from you. If you’re reading this and do not have a church home, would you consider West Green Baptist? We not perfect, but we’re growing together in Christ.

 

3 Reasons to Attend Church (or Rather be the Church)

Why should you go to church? Here are three reasons.

And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works,  not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25 (CSB)

It may not shock you, but I think people should be in church. But why? I could readily resort to the saying, “The Lord said so.” However, I will give more of an explanation. Although there are many reasons to attend church, I will narrow the focus on three ideas found in Hebrews 10:24-25.

Reason #1 – Accountability to Others

The author of Hebrews states, “And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works…”  Accountability is key to living a fruitful Christian life. Without others to hold us culpable, we tend to fall into complacency.  The sad thing is we don’t recognize our worldly drift. We all have blind spots.

A spiritual gathering of the saints will keep us accountable. It aids us in seeing our shortcomings.   For example, has anyone ever pointed out a smudge on your face? It may make you uncomfortable at first, but you’re grateful for your friend pointing it out before it was a greater embarrassment. Church helps us be to stay focused by accountability.

Reason #2 – Encouragement of Fellowship

The biblical writer exhorts us to be “encouraging each other.” We all struggle. Often, our struggles hid under the mask of “I-got it-all-together.” Nevertheless, we grapple to stay afloat. Let’s be real. We all need a pat on the back or a kind word from time to time.

True Christian fellowship inspires and restores. It encourages us to keep pressing forward in faith. It restores a proper perspective of reality. The valleys we walk through are only temporary. Heaven is on the horizon. Genuine fellowship is truly divine!

Reason #3 – Jesus is Coming!

I believe this sums up everything. We should be busy provoking love, doing good deeds, and encouraging others because Christ is coming back. This is the hope we all have in Christ. We need the reminder that one day all wrongs will be right.

Of course, I could think of more reasons to gather together in Jesus’s name (Like the fact, Jesus promised to be in our assemblies.) However, I think these three will suffice for now. Where do you gather with the saints? Leave a reply in the comments below.

 

PS-

Ray, thanks for encouraging email. God bless!  😉

 


The “In the Word Together” (ITWT) blog at www.kevinwbounds.com is a systematic approach to reading and reflecting on the Holy Scriptures in a community.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

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The Garden of Community

The Community of faith is vital to living a fruitful Christian life. Here are two reasons…

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:25 (NLT)

 The community of faith is vital to living a fruitful Christian life. 

Spring is blooming in South Georgia. The Dogwood trees are flowering. The grass is perking up to a livelier shade of green. Vegetable gardens are planned and planted in the hopes of a fruitful harvest. Much like these gardens, some believers desire to be productive, but they neglect being planted in the soil of a faith community.

The church community is crucial to the discipleship of Christians for many reasons. However, I would like to highlight only two of these reasons. The first reason is that you encounter Christ in the community of faith. (Think about that for a minute.) Jesus states, “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20 NLT) If one neglects to come together as the Body of Christ, they miss the opportunity to experience Christ in this manner. This fact alone should drive us to assemble with our brothers and sisters in the Lord! Often, I have been refreshed in my spirit by merely worshipping with others.

Next, reason two is that coming together encourages and hold us accountable to one another.  Like the old hymn says, we are prone to wander. Gathering regularly in Christ’s name gives us the accountability we desperately need. We need each other for the journey. You need a church; a family of disciples walking through life together.

Have you neglected church? You are missing out. You are selling yourself short. For if you are rooted in a thriving community of faith, you will bear the more fruit. Jesus said,  “When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” (John 15:8 NLT) Find a church. Find a home and grow to your full potential in the Lord. 

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