Rev. Paul Martin and his wife Lillian enjoyed the view of the grandchildren playing on the lawn in their spacious backyard. Their three sons and their families had come for a weekend visit and to be in church on Sunday for an important announcement. The seventy-four year old senior pastor had slowed greatly over the past year. His family, the nine-hundred member congregation, and the many assistant pastors anticipated him to name a successor tomorrow. It was expected.
Paul sipped ice tea from a comfortable Adirondack chair and studied his sons. They had grown to be fine men, walking in the truth and traditions they'd been taught. Their wives were lovely women full of life and laughter. And the grandchildren seemed happy and well behaved. The grateful grandfather basked in the picturesque “Hallmark” moment.
Then his eyes fixed on something yellow on the lawn close to the back fence. He stared in quiet frustration realizing what it was. “How those things just pop up overnight simply amazes me,” he said to Lillian as he got up.
“What things, Paul?” she asked watching him step off the deck.
As the aging man approached the small yellow-topped plant, a familiar psalm played across his mind. “They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing...”
He knelt down to pluck up the dandelion, when he noticed another one close by with a full top of white seeds ready to ride the wind to their new home. The scripture played again as he peered through the wooden fence to a large open meadow. It was a field of dandelions in various stages. Some yellow, some white. Some stood alone while others were clumped close together. The scene embedded itself in his heart. He turned and considered his own yard. An inviting half acre of lush, green grass with individual families and nearly a dozen children running and playing. Rev. Martin wondered why in over thirty-four years of full-time ministry he'd never seen it before.
The following morning, a clear current of expectation filled the air. “Who would it be? Who would Rev. Martin appoint as the new Senior Pastor of Brenton Community Church?” Every eye was fixed upon the eloquent preacher as he moved to the large mahogany pulpit. Time stopped as he looked out over the field of souls before him.
“I have a confession to make,” he started.
Suddenly, the restless teenagers stopped fidgeting and listened.
“I believe I have done you a great disservice.”
Several eyebrows raised in concern.
Equipped with a wireless lapel microphone, the Senior Pastor carefully stepped off the platform and paced the front. “I gave to you a pattern that was given to me. But I'm afraid that pattern...was flawed.” Mrs. Martin beamed, watching her husband as though seeing him preach for the first time.
“You're all expecting me to name a successor, aren't you?” Paul smiled seeing the sea of nods and smiles. “I was expecting the same thing. However, if I did that...I believe I would be perpetuating something man-made rather than what God designed for His church.”
The preacher carefully explained how the Creator of the universe used a simple dandelion to explain how a church should grow. Some here, some there. Large groups and small. And more importantly, not a single leader over a single church, but many elders in many churches. Something resembling families begetting families.
“I've invested many years into what I thought was the will of God. The reality is I've created my own organization and stuck a church sign on it. There are elders, teachers, evangelists and others here who I have neither honored nor recognized. My brothers and sisters, please forgive me. I've preached one thing...while practicing another.”
Paul walked back to the pulpit wiping his eyes. “As long as the Lord and you folks allow, rather than fishing my twilight years away into the sunset, I'd prefer to dismantle Rev. Martin's kingdom, and make room for the Kingdom of God.”
Paul and Lillian both flourished in their remaining years, more alive than ever! They not only saw their great grandchildren, but one large congregation develop into twenty-seven churches. People who once only filled pews on Sundays now confidently shared the word and taught others to teach. Like seeds of a dandelion, they rode the wind of the Spirit to wherever God would give the increase.
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