Growing up in the Sorial family, there are two things I came to expect from my father:
- Church was a Priority: Rain or shine, blizzard (Michigan), tornado (Texas), or earthquake (California), we would be going to Church, standing as a family, and worshipping God.
- A Family Garden was Not Optional: Coming from a small village called “El Tawfikia” in Minya (Upper Egypt) near Samalut, agriculture was a way of life for my dad’s family, and so would it be for us, at least in some small way. Every house we lived in had to have a garden. Before and after work, my dad spent time checking it and providing “status” updates to the family. I’m certain if Facebook was around back in those days, you all would have had a play-by-play look at the Sorial family garden.
Since my reversion in 2000, being in the body of Christ on Sunday mornings has been a non-negotiable for me. But this year I finally decided to close the circle on my childhood experience and plant a garden! Eating from the garden is amazing and the crop delicious (fresh tomato, cucumber, squash, yellow peppers, and cayenne peppers), however the lessons learned have been even more valuable for my own leadership and walk with Christ. Here are 5 of the lessons I have been reminded of this year:
- Nothing Replaces Good Preparation: In early April I had a 40 square foot garden of weeds. Although there was nothing complicated about preparing the soil, it would require great effort. The more weeds I pulled, the more it felt like it was never going to end. I just wanted to get the plants in the ground, start watering them, and watch the fruit come out. Whether it’s on a project I’m working on (like planting a garden or preparing a sermon) or a spiritual struggle I am trying to tackle, nothing replaces good preparation!
- Choose the Right Plants to Grow: As a rookie in gardening, I decided to set myself up for success and research the easiest plants for New Jersey climate. Starting with something complicated, would have introduced unnecessary temptations to quit, especially if the crop struggled. Assessing one’s resources, or stage of spiritual development, before taking a “right-sized step”, is always a good idea when preparing for the next step(s) in your faith, life, leadership, or career.
- Be Ready for the Unexpected: One thing I was absolutely not ready for was dealing with the rabbits that were obsessed with destroying my garden. The more the plants grew, the more those seemingly cute little bunnies came after my garden. The same principle holds true when you find yourself growing spiritually or making progress on a project that is touching the lives of others. Just be ready for unexpected annoyances to pop up – in the least likely of places and from the most confounding of people – and to not let those things knock you off course.
- Discipline: The number 1 tip I kept hearing over-and-over again had to do with watering techniques. As a result, I implemented a precise schedule to make sure the plants were well nourished. The key here was having a well followed regimen. Some of the most successful people in human history are those who have had a clear sense of personal discipline. The unexpected rain showers are never an excuse to neglect doing my part.
- Expect Success: Bearing fruit is a joyful experience! When planting a garden, it is what you live for. Nobody ever planted a garden or fruit tree and was satisfied if there was no fruit. Jesus makes it clear in the Gospel, fruit vines are supposed to bring forth fruit and if they do not, something is wrong! You should expect fruit; so long as you’re doing your part, trust that God will do His! It may not be the way you expect, but fruit will come. And when it does, be sure to enjoy it. Every time I go to the garden and bring in fruit (and yes the image of the veggies at the top are from my garden), it is a party at the Sorial house.