The Bible tells us that there are 2 systems that we can operate in. There’s “Egypt”, or the World’s system – which is actually a system of slavery, and control. And there is God’s system – which is based on freedom and love.
The problem with the system of the World is that you have to control outcomes in order to be successful. (We sometimes call this taking responsibility, or ownership). And although the inputs to this kingdom are similar to God’s kingdom – we put in love, patience, kindness, truth and all the ingredients needed to produce a good outcome – but, if for some reason the expected outcome doesn’t materialise – the system of the world requires that you “force” it to work. (After all, people have paid their money and for the most part, they don’t care what you have to do in order to deliver the thing they have bought. They just want what they want – and you have to deliver it!).
But the Kingdom of God is different. We still do our bit (planting, watering, etc) – but the outcome – the growth if you like – is up to God. And the consequences of this largely, are up to God – not us. We do our bit, and trust God that He is working it into His overall plan.
“So neither the one who plants counts for anything, nor the one who waters, but God who causes the growth.” 1 Corinthians 3:7 NET
The revelation is this: if we try to force outcomes, we become unfruitful in God’s Kingdom. The worries of the world put us into a false cycle of thinking “if I can just get this current problem sorted, then I can get on with more meaningful things – like spending more time with those who I am discipling etc.
But just as you solve one problem, up comes another. Someone key in your team suddenly resigns, leaving you with a huge mess to clean up – sucking up all your spare time. Or something technical fails, meaning that you have to cancel that relaxing weekend away – when you were going to have some God time, or you’re at a ministry activity serving and something at work goes badly wrong and you have to leave to go and sort it out.
I think Jesus told it best in the parable of the different types of soil:
“…but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.” Mark 4:19.
It’s not that we don’t take “responsibility” in God’s Kingdom – but what we don’t do, is try to force the outcome – that is, try and produce fruit our own strength. But the World’s system requires us to force outcomes in order to be successful, and this is what kills off all our good fruit.