Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Olive Tree

We aren't too familiar with olive trees here in Minnesota because they can't survive our harsh zone 4 winters.  I was reading about olive trees earlier this week. It takes 15 years for a sapling to reach olive bearing maturity. (In contrast fruit trees will typically bear in 3-5 years.). 15 years is a long time to dedicate space and nurture to a crop before getting any pay back at all.

However, once the root system and the scaffolding of the plant is in place olive trees can bear fruit for 2000 years. There are trees in the middle east that are this old. I've heard the analogy of slow and steady personal growth if we want to be  "a squash or an oak tree", Based on these new facts I guess I rather be an olive tree.

Learning about the olive tree made me think about the task of parenting and the parallels between olive tree husbandry and raising children. Here are 5 principles of raising children gleaned from the olive tree.

  1. Parents need to be committed to the task for the long term. 15 years to get an olive tree to a productive age and raising children to maturity have fairly similar time scales. Children know if you are committed to them for the long term. Never give up on them.
  2. It takes about 15 year to get some olives. Many parenting task do not bear fruit for 15 or even 20 years. The career your children choose will not be obvious until the college years or beyond. The spouse they select is heavily influenced by their relationship with their parents.
  3. If the root is deep the tree can prosper for 2 millennium. If the roots of the family are deep and the children have been taught well, many generations can be influenced for good.
  4. If the structure and scaffold of the tree is strong the tree will bear good fruit and be very productive. This is a matter of training, or pruning, they call it, if you are training trees. Proverbs says, "Train up a child in the way he is bent and when he is old he will not depart from it." This means to develop a child's natural gifts and talents. 
  5. Lightning can strike at any time. You don't know what the future holds. Children can make poor choices despite the best parental influence. We are called to love them and never give up on them, just like God never gives up on us.

No comments:

Post a Comment