June 03, 2017

Green Thumb Writers by Steph Beth Nickel

Remember the colour wheel your art teacher used in high school? If you forget what it looks like, you can check it out on Google images—which is what I did.

See that pretty green segment? Go straight across from it and you’ll discover red on the opposite side of the wheel. That’s the colour of my thumb—at least in the area of gardening.

Some wives complain that their husband doesn’t buy them flowers. Personally, I buy them for my hubby because he can keep them alive. I am quite content to look at our lovely flower gardens and refer to them as “Dave’s Gardens.”

While I don’t feel compelled to learn to keep plants and flowers alive, I have been called to plant and water seed—just like every other Christ follower has.

Let’s take a look at 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 in the English Standard Version: “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted. Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building."

The Corinthian believers were divided. There were those who claimed to follow Apollos. Others claimed to follow Paul. Still others claimed to follow Jesus. Seems they didn’t understand that Paul and Apollos were only the gardeners.

And while we’re not first century church leaders, we, too, are responsible to plant and water, trusting God to bring forth the harvest.

Of course there are countless ways to do our part, but here are half a dozen ways to become a Green Thumb Writer:

1. I know it seems self-evident—at least it should to writers who are Christian—but let’s remember to go to God in prayer and ask Him where He wants us to plant and water with our words.

2. Learn to discern the difference between a diversion and an opportunity. Let’s again think in gardening terms. What would your garden look like if you pulled a weed here, planted a flower there, and watered random patches? I’m no expert, as I mentioned previously, but even I know it wouldn’t result in much of a garden.

While that shiny new writing idea may very well be a God thing, we mustn’t forget to do the backbreaking work of sticking with a writing project until it’s as lush and beautiful as we can make it.

3. It’s important to keep developing your writing skills. Books. Courses. Conferences. I would add podcasts and online communities to the list as well.

Each year my hubby adds another feature to his gardens. And when he’s looking for inspiration, instruction, and ideas, he does his research.

4. What good would Dave’s research do if he never applied it? What if he thought, “Oh, I can’t start that project because I don’t know everything there is to know about it”?

The same is true about scattering our words to the four winds. Will there always be more to learn? Absolutely. Should that stop us from putting our work out there? Definitely not.

5. Gardening is serious business. For some, a successful harvest is the difference between eating and going hungry. Even the beauty of a lush flower garden can nourish in other ways.

Our writing is also serious business and requires hours of dedication and hard work. But our words can nourish and bring beauty to the world. Let’s commit to doing so.

6. Also, let’s remember to thank God when our words fall on fertile ground. What an awesome call to be His fellow workers!

While I’ll never likely develop a green thumb when it comes to working in the yard, I do pray that the Lord will change my red thumb to green when it comes to working in His garden.


  1. I almost didn't read this because of the title. Why? Thought it would be directed at horticultural column-writers and I, like you, Steph, have a red thumb -- there isn't a plant I cannot kill. Glad I did read the post after all. Appreciated the parallels and encouragement for writers who are Christians, and the reminder re. our responsibility. In the meantime, don't think I'll mow the front lawn for a couple of days ... apart from the lilacs, wild violets and dandelions are the only blooms out there at the moment. I'm grateful we're not responsible for ALL of the growing!

    1. Love your ID ... and the fact that you read and enjoyed the post. God bless!

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Tracy. (How are you feeling?)

  3. Such a good horticultural/theological lesson, Stephanie. I too would like to become a green-thumb writer for God. Thanks for reminding us of the steps we need to take to study and grow in our chosen garden. I appreciate that God generously helps with the watering and gives the increase. Thanks for this excellent post, Stephanie.

    1. Thanks so much, Sharon. God bless you!

  4. Great post. I think we need the reminders that it isn't all up to us. Yes, we have a hand in watering (putting fingers to keyboard) and doing our best to keep our garden up to snuff(keeping at it), learning as much as we can about the process (taking courses, reading books, learning by doing), but it's God who brings forth the fruit/flowers/final manuscript. Nice analogy, Steph!

    1. Amen to that,my twin ... I mean my sister and fellow InScriber.


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