My dad has a passion for gardening, and throughout my childhood, we always had a huge garden. At that time, practicality was our main focus. My father grew up Amish, without electricity and relying on horse and buggy transportation. Meanwhile, my mom aged out of foster care, so my parents didn't have many advantages to begin with. Moreover, the economy was harsh on dairy and hog farmers in the 80s. Despite these challenges, my parents lovingly opened our home to foster children, providing them with a caring environment while they awaited adoption. This made having a sizable garden, which supplied us with vegetables to eat throughout the summer and preserve for the winter, a necessity. Although we weren't wealthy, we always had farm-raised beef, chicken, and pork, fresh milk, homemade applesauce, and an abundance of vegetables to feed us, a group of growing boys who ate constantly between playing baseball or building forts in the pasture.
Today, my dad continues to plant a garden that could feed my parents for a decade. He takes great joy in watching it grow and generously shares the fruits of his labor. Last weekend, my family was a beneficiary of the harvest. In addition to a variety of other vegetables, my dad planted 50 seed potatoes, half red and half yellow. He used manure from the pasture and covered it with a layer of straw. With minimal watering and weeding required due to the thorough preparation, the soil became incredibly fertile and easy to work with. Three generations of Miller men worked side by side, using our hands to pull potatoes and uncover them around the remaining seed potatoes. The result was a remarkable yield of over 250 pounds of beautiful, firm potatoes. This experience is the inspiration for this week’s thoughts on potatoes.
Regardless of the situation, with care and effort, we can expect a greater harvest than what we initially sow. This realization led me to think that each of us has the opportunity to be gardeners in our everyday lives. Being blessed to serve in an agricultural cooperative, it's easy to make the analogy. However, I'd like to shift the focus to the small extras that make the harvest easier. Keeping this in mind, let's transition from potatoes to people.
Every single day, each one of us has the chance to make things better and more manageable for others. This often comes down to two fundamental ingredients: intelligence and effort. Intelligence is comprised of experience combined with discernment—the understanding of what needs improvement and how to achieve it. However, intelligence alone is futile without effort. Merely possessing the solution is meaningless if we're not willing to put in the effort to share it. Effort can manifest in various forms, ranging from teaching to taking action. When combined with intelligence, it amplifies the impact we can make. To tie these back to the garden. Knowing the purpose of utilizing fertilizer and straw is intelligence and putting them in place is effort. Removing either part negates the potential impact.
It's not difficult to identify those individuals who consistently put the combination of effort and intelligence into action. We recognize them by the fruits they bear. In fact, you've probably already thought of one or two people on your team who exemplify this combination. Conversely, we also notice those who possess the ability but fail to combine the two. It could be the person who is perpetually frustrated because they know how to solve a problem, yet nobody listens to them. They possess the intelligence but don't put in the effort to communicate, teach, or help, resulting in their abilities being overlooked. It's also the person who works tirelessly but refuses to learn or adapt to new ways of doing business. Their effort is there, but they fail to utilize their own intelligence or tap into the intelligence of their teammates to improve or make life easier.
This brings me to the challenge for this week: amplify your impact. If you're one of those exceptional individuals who consistently amplify impact, thank you! Don't stop being amazing! If you've been working diligently but haven't made significant progress, take a moment to pause, connect with others, analyze the situation, and utilize your experience and discernment to see how you can improve the overall situation for everyone involved. If you find that no one seems to listen to the wisdom you're offering, take a moment to honestly assess whether you're putting in the necessary effort to teach and gain buy-in.
However, let's not limit ourselves to the workplace. Let's bless others by amplifying our impact at home, church, and in the community. Each one of us is God's very good idea, filled with amazing gifts. We are meant to cultivate and share these gifts with everyone around us.
To sum it up, let's remember to be gardeners in our daily lives, nurturing and growing the potential in ourselves and others. Harvest your amazing gifts and share them with everyone!