Justin Hiebert

Catalyzing Change

Planting, Growing, Reaping

Posted on 22 Jul 2013 in Discipleship | 4 comments

Today is the first in a two part series on spiritual growth and development. Today’s post focuses on the work of growth, while tomorrow’s post will focus on intentionality.


I grew up on a farm in central Kansas. A place full of long summer days, endless blue skies, rolling wheat fields, thunderstorms, wind, and a vastness of space that I have experienced in few other places.

And weeds. I can’t forget the weeds.

We had a family garden growing up. But I don’t mean some cute little city person garden. This wasn’t a row of tomatoes, a row of beans, a few peppers, and some flowers. This was row after row after endless row of tomatoes, potatoes, bushes, shrubs, berries, beans, peas, and carrots. You name it, my parents grew it.

Except when your mom is a librarian and your dad a farmer, the task of weeding falls to the kids. So everyday, my brother and I had an allotted time we needed to spend in the garden discovering the joy of weeding. Picking, plucking and pulling our way down the rows we would spend an hour every day attempting to become one with the garden. [pullquote]We were supposed to find zen. All I ever found were blisters and a bad attitude.[/pullquote]

And then, finally at my wits end, we would harvest. A joyful abundance of rhubarb, strawberries, grapes, peas and a whole assortment of beans and peppers. A royal feast would take place.

I wanted the feast without the work. I wanted the celebration without the discipline.


If we aren’t careful, we can end up treating Christianity like this.

Good gardening requires lots of hard work. For trees, there’s pruning. For vegetables, there’s fertilizing. For fruit, there’s picking.

Christian growth (more commonly thought of as discipleship) is much the same way. We can’t experience growth and the joy of ‘the feast’ without the hard behind-the-scenes work. We can’t have a harvest without cultivating, planting, and pruning our lives to be more like Jesus.

  • I need my bitterness clipped back and pruned, because left unchecked, it will slowly choke the life out me.
  • I need my anger to be uprooted and tossed out, without that, my life becomes dry, stale, and prohibits life.
  • I need my jealously be discarded and thrown into the trash pile, otherwise it takes over the good that’s in me.

    List of botanical gardens in Australia

    (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But I also need the positives of good gardening:

  • I need my grief to be pruned. In those painful moments of life is where I often find the most growth and reliance on God.
  • I need joy to bud, blossom and expose a world of beauty around me, if I only stop long enough to see it.
  • I need God’s gift of water to go down to the deepest roots of my soul and water me, sustaining me in all things.

I wasn’t much for gardening growing up. Truth be told, I’m still not, but now I see so much more than I did as an eight year old boy worried that summer would pass him by. Now, I see the work that goes into a good harvest is worth every second of investment. As a pastor, Jesus follower, and Good News believer, I also realize that when I stare at blossoming trees or nasty weeds I see myself: needing the hard work of discipline, to ultimately find myself pruned, weeded, and growing in the faith and hope of Jesus.

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Justin Hiebert

Leadership Catalyst - Entrepreneur - Coach at JSHiebert Leadership Coaching
I am a Business and Life Coach in both non-profit and for profit settings. I coach leaders, executives, and pastors in areas of vision, clarity, and values. In relationship coaching I focus on healthy and sustainable relationships, and in leadership development roles I catalyze change for individuals and groups to thrive. I also consult churches and organizations on how to train new leaders and create a healthy culture. In addition to that, I am an Anabaptist pastor in the Denver metro area. I specialize on topics that include: missional theology, discipleship, culture and the church in today’s society. I am married to my wonderful wife Elise and we have three kids. I grew up and now work in the United States Mennonite Brethren Church (USMB) and love the people and history of the Mennonite Brethren faith. I am a graduate of Tabor College with a dual degree in Youth Ministry and Christian Leadership, a graduate of Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary with a Masters of Divinity, and a Doctoral Student and Bethel Seminary. I also teach college classes in areas of Bible, Communication, and Business.

Latest posts by Justin Hiebert (see all)

  • EXCELLENT stuff. It’s something that I find is lacking in American Christianity… the desire for all the benefits of the faith but without any of the discipline that goes along with it… and I’m just as guilty at times.

  • Weeding is an excellent analogy for discipleship. Because “seasoned Christians” are never immune to these “weeds” popping up. Discipleship is a lifelong decision to throw off that which hinders our relationship to Jesus- constantly. Thanks for this one!

  • Having done a bit of weeding myself, I found it instructive about how I may improve.
    But, perhaps the goal isn’t “improvement” as that implies a reward system. Perhaps we are to just do acts of love as they present themselves and praise Him for the time we have in this particular existence.

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