Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.
— Mark 4:26-27
There are no instant miracles. The kingdom of God will not come about by magic, but through hard work coupled with tender loving care. First we must sow the seeds—but even before that we must prepare the ground to ensure the seed is accepted.1 Then comes patience, and the unspoken advice to tend the seedling as it grows to become a plant, a living breathing structure, a place to accommodate new life, a tree greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.2 When growing a tree we humans have some control, some choices, but ultimately the tree's growth is determined by nature, by the weather, by history even, and all this is in God's domain, not ours. The earth is the Lord's;3 we are tasked and entrusted as stewards of God's earth.4
Those of us working in the field of organisational transformation can draw great learning from these parables. Too many times change is forced upon workers, usually in a top-down, all-at-once fashion, with little expected of the workers except compliance. Jesus' way is different. It is bottom-up, it is organic, it is respectful. Just as the gardener ensures the ground is fertile so must we ensure the conditions of the organisation are fertile. We must start small, planting seeds—simultaneously of discontent and of hope. The workers themselves must want the change, must want to weed out that which is ineffective and inhumane, and desire that which nurtures both themselves and their customers. And we don't know how it will grow. Change takes its own course, and all we should do is gently guide it, clear the way, remove the impediments, continue to nurture the soil. But too often we are in too much of a hurry. Change is wanted instantly. Magic is demanded. But that is not God's way, and as beings created in the image of God it must—by definition—be our way too. If only our leaders understood and accepted that!
1 The parable of the sower describes the different grounds we may try to sow seed and how little of it is truly fertile ground: See Mark 4:3-20
2 Mark 4:3-32
3 Psalms 24:1
4 The instructions expressed in Genesis 1:26-28 & 2:15 give us dominion over the earth. Sadly, since the industrial revolution this honour has been sorely abused; indeed, we have treated the earth so poorly that we are bringing about its demise.