Jimmy Brown sharecropped. He lived on the owner’s land, which had fields in four locations. One field was right next to the house. A second was right beyond the first. The third was behind the woods, and the fourth was ten miles down the road. Jimmy was new to farming. He wanted to do a good job. He plowed and disked and harrowed the field next to the house. He then planted it. As the crop began to come up he fertilized and cultivated it. Then he harvested the crop.
The first year, he didn’t get to the other three fields. He spent all his time on the one next to the house. The second year, he began in the same way as the first. He wanted to do a better job. So he spent extra effort in plowing and planting and cultivating. In spite of his efforts there were still weeds in his field, and his yield wasn’t quite as high as some of his neighbors. He didn’t get tot he second, third and fourth fields.
The third year, Jimmy was determined to get the best yield possible, so he proceeded in much the same manner as the first year. He began with the best of intentions, but as the year progressed, the field turned out much as it had in the previous year. Again he had a good crop, but it wasn’t perfect. There were still many weeds. And again, he didn’t get to the other fields.
At the beginning of the fourth year the owner inquired of Jimmy why the yield of crops from his four fields was so low. Jimmy explained that he was trying to harvest all the crops possible from the fields and he was still working on the first one.
The owner suggested that Jimmy farm all four fields. But Jimmy just couldn’t see it. After all, he hadn’t got the best crop possible and rooted all the weeds out of the first field yet. Shouldn’t he complete the first job before he attacked the second?
“After all, there are plenty of needs right around here.”
Many people ask why we should go overseas to reach people when there are so many people in our community who are not Christians. This story shows what happens if we wait until we’ve finished the job here before we obey the Lord of the Harvest to go into all the world.
1. How do you interpret this story? What is the point?
2. What do you like about this story? What bothers you about it?
3. How well was Jimmy doing at farming the first field? How long might it take him to get the perfect yield?
4. How do you think Jim's landlord responded to Jim's explanation?
5. How do you think your church is doing with the various fields?
6. What kinds of things do you think will help your congregation farm all the fields?