Pulling Weeds and Other Undesirable Tasks – CMN Women


Pulling Weeds and Other Undesirable Tasks

By Lisa Ulmer

I hate yard work. This includes mowing the grass, pulling weeds, spraying weed killer, and picking up after the dog, especially in the summer when it’s hot and just plain miserable. The problem is my husband also hates yard work. And when you’re a full-time church planter, who has time for it anyway?

We had a company spray our yard to kill the weeds, but some of those pesky little guys were still sprouting up. So, there I was, out in our hot backyard with my work gloves on, and pulling those weeds out one-by-one. Some came out easily. Others had really taken root and took some serious muscle.

I couldn’t help but think of the weeds in my own life that seemingly became more evident when we said “yes” to this church planting journey.

You see, I thought I was mature and confident in my abilities and standing with the Lord. But when difficult situations come, it’s easy to see my own insecurities and shame poking through like a weed stretching for some sunlight. What do you do when you pour your time and energy into launch team members and then they leave? A little seed of bitterness can take root.

What happens when you plan a big event or service and attendance is dismal? Some doubts creep in. What do you do when you know God has called you to plant a church, but it isn’t going as you planned? You may wonder, “Am I enough?”

In my church planting experience, I’m learning that those times when failure seems near are actually ideal opportunities to lean into what God is saying and revealing to me about my own life. Am I placing too much of my identity in what people think of me? Am I equating attendance numbers or offering amounts with determining if I’m a success or not?

Spraying the weeds rarely works. It takes someone committing the time to pull them by the roots for them to not come back. Conferences, podcasts, or even my husband’s Sunday sermons…this is all spray. And as thankful as I am for all of it, I need the Real Gardener to take His time and remove the roots.

The curious thing about weeds, is they usually grow in the midst of something bigger and more beautiful than they are. Isn’t that true of our failures? They are merely growing in the midst of God’s bigger story.

You see, good gardeners are patient because they know something we often forget: weeds are a distraction from the fruit and beauty that is being produced.

Despite all our insecurities, God is still using our churches like beautiful gardens that bring life to each community they are planted in. They are pockets of hope and beauty in places that are filled with darkness.

May we have the grace and strength to let the True Gardener uproot the hidden shame and bitterness in our hearts so that we may be authentic people of God who love and serve with all we have.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9

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Lisa Ulmer and her husband, Preston, pastor Discover Church in the Highlands, located in Denver, CO. They moved to Denver in 2015 as a part of Urban Islands Project, and started holding Doubter’s Clubs, a dialogue-based meeting led by a Christian and an atheist. They launched the church in 2016, and Lisa leads worship and helps with administrative duties. She loves reading about relationships, being outdoors, and spending time with her husband and two amazing daughters, Piper and Brennan.