On Pruning

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My Catalyst 3DM coaching group is studying Building a Discipling Culture by Mike Been and Steve Cockram and has spent the last few weeks talking about rhythms and pruning. I have found our discussions around pruning particularly enlightening.

Here is what the huddle guide has to say on the topic.

“Bearing fruit is the most natural thing in the world for a branch. It doesn’t do it by straining to push out a grape. Looking at our lives, however, it would seem like producing fruit – making disciples – is strenuous. If fruit-bearing is not coming naturally in our lives, could it be that we have not spent the proper season abiding? Could it be that we have become overgrown branches, too weak to support a single grape, let alone a bunch?

Pruning is not the fun part of life. You can often recognize pruning as a painful, stressful, or challenging time – but if a grapevine is not pruned regularly, the branches grow spindly and weak. The branches need abiding time to gain strength for the growing season. Pruning is not always a sign of God’s discipline. Sometimes even healthy growth must be trimmed in order to make room for future growth.

The book is right. Pruning is not fun. It can be painful, stressful, and challenging.

I, for one, am terrible at it. Terrible. At. It.

I am over-committed. My life is busting at the seams, and not only do I not have any room for future growth, but I often find myself tired, cranky, and a little burnt out. I am in a season where pruning is critical.

So this week I’ve asked a handful friends to share their thoughts on where they’ve been called to cut back. I sure hope you enjoy their perspectives. And if you, like me, find yourself needing some pruning, I hope this be a catalyst for change in your life.

Is there an area of your life where you are feeling called to prune?

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Lindsey has a sincere love for her precious dogs Molly and Maisy, a good red wine and the Delta Sky Club. She spends her days (and some nights) laboring to end childhood hunger at Feed the Children and to gather, equip and unleash women at IF:Gathering.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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  • I am constantly trying to prune. But often times i equate not having any money for not doing enough. so instead of being wise with what I do and do not do, I accept all in hopes of making a living but also finding more things to do. Because I know it I am surrounded by weeds and the life is being chocked out of me.

    I think a lot of it for me is in the fact that if I am not busy, if I am not working, I see myself as being wasteful and lazy.
    I am looking forward to reading more and finding out what others are doing to slow down.
    My recent post Questions for You

    • I think most of us struggle with the need to feel productive. But we have to realize that rest is critical and allows us to be more productive later.

  • Rodney

    Lindsey,

    I love this analogy as it directly relates to my career as a horticulturist.

    I need to prune and will try to think about it in this way.

    If I may, I would like to add a few things about pruning that might help:

    1) Find a mentor. There are some great pruners out there and it is a lost art. One of my staff is an excellent pruner and I can learn so much from him in just a couple of hours. Depending on the plant (and the person) if you prune too far or at the wrong time, it will never come back. Some pruning can be done at any time, other pruning might need to occur at certain season (depending on our moods and phases of life).

    2) Discipline is more than pruning. Some plants (like grape vines) actually need to be tied to yield the most fruit. Without the tying of the vine, the grapes will go right back to being wild. This is where we could use accountability groups to keep us going.

    3) If you want to be an oak (or other big shade tree) you have to watch out for your central leader. All large trees have a central, dominant leader that determines the ultimate size and growth form of the tree. Throughout its (and our) life, subordinate leaders will actually try to rise up and take over. This saps the tree of energy and distracts it of what it was meant to be. Watch out for these other “callings” or leadership opportunities that might take you away from your strongest asset. (although a little competition is good).

    Sorry to get in the weeds on this comment. 🙂

    • This is amazing. Thank you so much for adding your perspective.

      In my reading they talked about how they prune a vineyard for 3 seasons before they use the grapes are ready to be used for wine. So often we are tempted to use the exploit the first grape…

  • Ha! I feel like I'm definitely in the pruning season. Not so much on things that I need to be cutting back on, but on watching others I live with and love go through horrific seasons of life. Through this, my faith has been tested, tried, stretched, grown, and the only thing I have to depend on and call out to right now is God. It's as if He's stripping everything away that I used to depend on in order to show me that those things are not sold – only shifting sand. My reliance must be on Him and Him alone, as He's the only thing in this life that does not change. So where my busy-ness is not a problem for me right now, I'm definitely in the midst of chaos in emotional distresses going off like land mines around me, and it sends me running to Him. I'm figuring He's growing me for a reason – God never wastes a hurt.
    My recent post veggies

  • I found this out a few years ago, that pruning sometimes cuts away the good. I love the thought that times of pruning allow for times of abiding. That is so true. Never have I abided more than when I was being pruned. Looking forward to reading more this week!

    Thanks!

    Stacey

  • Yep, I feel very much like you do and God is definitely calling me to "prune" some areas of my life. My biggest area is my schedule. I take on too much and I feel overwhelmed. I am "pruning" some of the activities that I do that others can do.
    My recent post Do you try to take on too much by yourself

  • Oh girlfriend, we both know I'm a hot mess when it comes to pruning. But it's part of the process. A process I'm learning to embrace.

    Biggest learning: pruning doesn't equal discipline.

    What I'm pruing: my schedule.

    What needs to be pruned: my toe nails.

    🙂

    My recent post five years…

  • Just last week I made the decision to take a semester or two off from teaching a Bible study for young women because between seminary and a full-time job, I have become overcommitted and don't have the time (or energy) to continue at the moment. I've really been struggling with that decision because I love teaching and love those women, but interestingly enough, as much as it seemed like a God-led decision, I never once thought of it from the perspective of pruning…and I SO badly needed this reminder!
    My recent post A Bridal Shower

  • John

    John 15:1

    I prefer to leave the pruing up to one that knows me better than myself

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  • renamariek

    Pruning is not fun, but it is so healthy and something that we are too stubborn to do. In my life I know there are so many thing that I have to "prune" myself from. I think most of us know what we need to prune in our lives, but its the action of actually doing it that is very hard. How do we get over our stubbornness and sacrifice a little for something even greater. "Lord, show me the exact places I need pruning and motivate me to follow through on letting go." Thank-you for the post Lindsey! It was a great reminder.