Be the OX

Joel Nelson

Director of Church Strengthening, Converge North Central

  • Church strengthening

If you were to write down your call to the current ministry that God has called you to, what are some of the words or images that would come to your mind?

One image that might not be a part of your call are the times when you are a leader, servant, and shepherd in a jumbled, cluttered, disordered mess. But a quick review of the weeks prior and the weeks to come confirms a  ministry that includes messy people, messy situations, and messy times.

The writer of Proverbs 14 probably wasn’t thinking about dealing with a pandemic, the polarization of our culture on multiple fronts, or being a part of the lives of the people in your community. But the writer knew something of what it takes to achieve an abundant harvest.

Dealing with an ox can at times become tedious as the farmer slips into a frame of mind of seeing the day-to-day care and attention to the ox as an obstacle to the harvest. But Proverbs 14:4 is a reminder that the reward for the work, an abundant harvest, is the result of the strong oxen.

Where there are no oxen, the stable is clean,

but an abundant harvest comes through the strength of an ox.

With a desire to see an abundant harvest, consider these four thoughts from Proverbs and allow them to impact and perhaps refresh your call to ministry:

Desire an Abundant Harvest

Does your call include wanting a large harvest? Don’t compare what would be a large harvest to another church across the street or across the state, but what does it look like for you in this season? The admonition that the fields are ripe for harvest hasn’t been cancelled. What role do you and your church play in the harvest? People follow their leader before they follow a plan. Let your call be expressed thru Biblical teaching, relationships within the congregation, and a vision for an abundant harvest.

What’s the Priority?

Proverbs reminds us that clean stables are not the priority. The outcomes to pursue are strong oxen and an abundant harvest. All else are means to that end. How is this embedded in the church’s DNA? How are others empowered to this end?

It Can be Messy

An ox makes a mess. Doing what it takes to make an ox strong also makes a mess. But that is overshadowed by what the strength of the ox can accomplish. The angels rejoice when someone comes to faith, not because of the cleanliness of our stable. Don’t allow the fear of “messiness” shrink your call. Instead, allow a renewed Kingdom focus to redefine how to chase the harvest.

Be the Strong Ox

Recommit to your call. Guard your mind. Renew your spirit. Care for your health. Lead boldly. Model courageously. Find accountability with pastors and friends who can share in your journey. Seek first His Kingdom. 

At Converge North Central, our greatest desire is to see our churches respond to the abundant harvest that is all around. Our conviction is rooted in the belief that healthy churches with healthy pastors will seek out, and be prepared to reap that harvest.

It might get messy, but it will only happen through the strength of the ox.

How can we help you? Connect with us at

Joel Nelson, Director of Church Strengthening, Converge North Central

Director of Church Strengthening

Additional articles by Joel Nelson