Are You a Deadhead?

– Andy Wade –

Are you a Deadhead? Many in my generation are, but that’s not what I’m talking about!

deadheading flowersOut in my garden-sanctuary this morning watering plants, I was once again distracted by God. This time it happened when I was sidetracked by all the dead flowers. Ah, time to deadhead. So I began cutting and pinching off the old, dead flowers so that more, new flowers, would be encouraged to grow.

The science behind this is basically that the purpose of flowers is to attract pollinators and ultimately produce seeds (fruit) – the survival of the plant. When you deadhead flowers you trick the plant into thinking it needs to continue to produce flowers because it’s not yet produced any seed.

Ta Da! Your garden is filled with beautiful, long-lasting flowering plants!

So as I was deadheading I began wondering, what are the spiritual applications to what I’m doing? We are all familiar with Jesus talking about being the vine, we’re the branches, God prunes so that we’ll bear fruit and bear it more abundantly. That’s what first came to mind – more flowers! (John 15:1-3)

deadheading calendulaBut then I started thinking about the mechanics of what I was doing, removing the dying flower so that the plant would not produce seed (fruit) and would be tricked into bearing more flowers and look pretty.

How often in life do we do this, focusing on how good we look and not on the actual fruit we are to produce! It looks good. It’s attractive. And for the flower garden this is a good thing. (although I always let the last flowers go to seed to save for next year’s crop).

But what about in our lives? What do I do, maybe even unintentionally, that nips-in-the-bud the bearing of good fruit? Where in my life am I so anxious to get on to the next “beautiful thing” that I deadhead that which God has been working in and through me to produce fruit – both for me, personally, and for others to enjoy?

That in itself gave me a lot to ponder (and confess!).

Then I got to thinking about church programs, even neighborhood action. The “low-hanging fruit” in my musings would be the “attractional model of church”. I’m not going there.

What I’m really interested in are areas where we…I… assume the work is done when the program, project, book, or event is finished. But really, that’s just cultivating the garden and planting seeds. Where is the follow-up? How do we follow-up?

Keeping with the garden metaphor, we’ve started a companion garden where various plants are inter-mingled for mutual benefit and growth. But if we don’t follow up with care – that is, working toward mutual growth, collaboration, and healthy community, we may as well be deadheading the flowers so they don’t bear fruit!

Another danger, especially for those who raise support for their work, is working to produce what “attracts” attention and donors, but ignoring the less pretty side of getting our hands in the dirt and compost of life after the flower show so that real and lasting fruit is born (John :15:15-17). In our efforts to remain relevant to our supporters, it’s on to the next project, the next event, the next book, even before we’ve fully cultivated that which God has already begun working in and through us.

What are your thoughts? Are there areas in your life, community, ministry, where deadheading has become a common practice?