by Tony McKeown - Lessons from the Puriri Tree: Twenty-eight years ago, I planted a native Puriri tree on the boundary of our newly acquired home. It was a spindly little thing, and a lonely offering amidst a barren and uninspiring landscape. I recall sitting by the newly turned soil and wishing it well, as the wind howled and the rain poured down upon it, as if a gift at the house warming party.
Today our friend stands proud amongst its neighbours, offering shelter, food and beauty to a myriad of passing wildlife. Parrots, Tui, Kererū, Morepork, Blackbird, Sparrows; you name it; all are welcome to shelter and feed from its bounty. What started life as an ill thought out plan, has added so much beauty, provision and meaning to its world, that it serves as a daily reminder to me of how our life can so easily do the same; given the right time and circumstances.
Sadly, when we define our efforts as being a success or a failure, we actually lose the integrity of the meaning of fruitfulness. When the focus of one’s life is on success or failure, we evaluate the outcome of our actions by the opinions and expectations of others, rather than the uniqueness of who we are and by optimising the skills, abilities and giftedness inherent within us.
Just like the Puriri tree – It is what it is, and it does what it does!
We were called to be fruitful, not successful. Success is often based on outcome. We use qualitative and quantitative measures to reason the result, but many would have defined Jesus ministry at the point of His crucifixion as being a failure, including His disciples. (John 2:22.)
The Bible is packed full of advice for living a fruitful life, in fact from the book of Genesis, we are blessed and told to be fruitful (Gen. 1:28-29), but what does that look like? Our worldview would often seek to define it as “success”.
The drive for success is rarely satisfied in its pursuit of more. It is competitive in nature and always demands more. It affirms that we are only as good as our last performance, whereas fruitfulness is content with the process.
The Bible defines fruitfulness as productivity, and we all produce different fruit and at different levels. The apple tree’s productivity cannot be measured by that of an orange tree. It’s a pointless comparison. My Puriri tree, (as effective as it is in its domain), is no comparison to my Myer lemon tree. Both are fruitful in their own season and way.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. (1 Timothy 6:6-7.)
Fruitfulness is directly related to contentment. If we lack contentment we will always view the situation as being at odds with the process; which results in trying to change our world or our circumstances, rather than change within.
Here are some keys of fruitfulness from the Puriri tree:
1. Position – Psalm 127
Where we are positioned determines our effectiveness. What we feed on determines our fruitfulness.
2. Planted – Psalm 92:13
Stability brings consistency, and faithfulness. Uprooting and moving never provides the stability to produce. Weather the storm, dig in and take root. The seasons WILL change.
3. Provision – Philippians 4:19
Companion planting establishes nourishment and protection to all. We need the support and input from those around us as we grow up to provide shelter to others.
4. Protection – Matthew 13:24-30
Don’t despise undergrowth. It protects the roots and holds moisture in times of drought. Taller trees may block some of the light, but they will also shield us from the storm.
5. Prioritise – Matthew 6:33
Put your energy into the root system not the berries. The berries will come in time. Fruitfulness is a by-product of being content with the process. Put your roots down. Whether it’s in church, in a marriage, in a career, in a ministry; fruit follows process.
6. Period or Phase – Ecclesiastes 3:1
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13.)
Tony McKeown is a popular PK speaker and Senior Pastor of Eden Church in Onehunga, Auckland. His passion is to help people know God, find freedom, discover purpose and make a difference.