Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. (Matthew 13:3-8)
A couple of years ago I was talking with a former student who is now an adult and has a family and a job where he oversees a large number of young people. He told me a story of how he had used my “integrity speech” with a group of guys he was leading several years ago.
I asked him what he meant by my “integrity speech”, and he reminded of an incident that happened over 15 years ago when I challenged some of the students in my group with the question, “What will it take to give up your integrity?”
To be honest, I did not remember the situation initially until he shared more of the story and context. It was not a sermon or part of an event but rather a simple conversation that I had with him and some of the other guys in the group.
Now I know that the passage we read earlier is about the four types of receptivity to the message of the gospel and how people might respond to that message. However, I would like to utilize this truth to help us understand that others are always listening and responding to what we do and say. My point is not to talk about that old “integrity speech,” or to address the importance of properly receiving the gospel message. Nor am I trying to compare how we live our lives to the gospel and I certainly don’t want to water down this passage in any way. The focus here is that we must remember that we are influencing others regardless of realizing it or not.
Rarely in our lives do we get the opportunity to know how we have affected another person. I was so encouraged that someone not only was listening to what I had said but that he took it so close to heart that he passed the challenge on to others.
We all have the ability to plant seeds, and even though some of them fall on deaf ears or hardened hearts, some of them fall on fertile ground and significant growth takes place.
I am sure there are times when I miss the opportunity, but this reminded me of the potential impact that we have each day in the lives of others. We never really know what someone is hearing and if they are actually listening.
Let’s be deliberate about planting good seeds and conscious that we are always looking for fertile soil so that we have a positive impact in the lives of others.
Pastor Brian Freerksen
Student Ministries Pastor