There’s a lot of change going on in my life right now. A couple of examples: I just started a new job, and the boundaries of our church congregation recently changed.
Perhaps this explains why a simple sentence in 2 Kings caught my attention this week. The prophet Isaiah was reassuring King Hezekiah that he need not worry about the massive Assyrian army bearing down on Jerusalem. God would deliver him and his people. Isaiah described what things would be like after the Assyrian invaders retreated:
The remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall yet again take root downward, and bear fruit upward.
Here’s the thought that keeps coming back as I ponder this passage: In order to bear fruit, we have to take root.
In the Allegory of the Olive Tree, some of the trees become corrupted because the branches are growing “faster than the strength of the roots, taking strength unto themselves” (Jacob 5:48). In Alma’s parable of the seed, the tree withers away in the heat of the sun, “because it hath no root” (Alma 32:38). Visible and tangible achievements are not sustainable unless they are built on a solid, largely invisible foundation.
What does this mean in practice for us? Here are some thoughts:
- Invest in relationships. You will gain trust that you may need to draw upon in the future.
- Build your skills and knowledge. Develop what Steve Covey called “production capability,” so that you can produce consistently over time. (See The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Simon and Schuster, 1989, 52-60.)
- Be part of the community. Participate in optional events. Volunteer for assignments. Act like you’re part of the team.
- Upgrade your infrastructure, including your habits, your environment, and your schedule. Establish and maintain good habits of physical and spiritual hygiene.
Basic reminders, I know, but particularly important when starting a new venture, like a new job or a new ward.
Today, I will put down roots. I will recommit to foundational activities. I will participate fully in the communities that I’m part of. I will invest for the long haul, with faith that my efforts will bear fruit in time.