I am really glad I was listening to the sermon today – that helped me recognize what was happening when I got “pruned” after church. You would have had to been in the 10:45am service to fully appreciate this but I will describe it to the rest of y’all.

At 10:45am, when the band opened the service, there were fewer than 30 people in the chairs; bit by bit that number increased until by the end of the service there were over 300 folks sitting in the room. It was a typical Sunday. However, as I was closing the service I felt compelled by the whole “God prunes so we will bear much fruit” message to exhort (other words could surely be used here) our church family to honor God and encourage Pastor Dale and the Praise Team by increasing their effort to be in the room ready to worship when services begin.

The fundamental content of my words was probably sound – the God who died for us probably deserves as much or more attention and honor than our boss, the start bell at our children’s school or the opening whistle of an Orlando City soccer game.

But as I stepped into the lobby a brother took me aside and was used by the very Lord I was trying to honor to “prune” me. How do I know it was a “pruning”, a revealing of something in me that needed a quick trim by God? Because as he was speaking there was strong emotion that rose up in me and it was reflected in my voice.

I know enough not to waste the emotion of that moment and as the Lord and I processed this together, here are the lies I was believing that He helped me uncover:

Lie: “I am responsible to protect Pastor Dale from disappointment.”

  • The Lord reminded me that He is Dale’s source and provision in times of disappointment and that the scripture does not say, “Without Jim you can do nothing”.

Lie: “I am responsible to protect Arthur and the Praise Team from disappointment.”

  • The Lord reiterated that He is their provision, too, and that the worship they presented to Him was of great value no matter whether the room was empty or full.

Lie: “It is my job as a pastor to protect God from disappointment.”

  • I could almost sense Him smiling as He reminded me of the very thing He showed Pastor Dale last week – my responsibility is simply share the truth, not get results. I realized in that moment He was probably just as disappointed in my efforts to do His job as He may have been with people showing up late to church.

Was the “pruning” painful? Yes. Will this quick trim by God cause me to bear “more fruit”? I sure hope so. Interestingly, Pastor Dale spoke of four fruit baskets: no fruit; some fruit; more fruit; much fruit. But I wonder if Pastor Dale should have discussed a fifth fruit basket: bad fruit. A branch bearing that definitely needs a chop. And for that I am grateful.

I am really looking forward to Life Group this week. At least I know one person who will have something to share about “pruning”.

Pastor Jim