The Shulammite bride in Song of Solomon says at one point (SoS 1:6b) :
My mother’s sons were angry with me
and made me take care of the vineyards;
my own vineyard I had to neglect.
Whether, it is by coercion or by wrong-headed thinking (or whatever) if we neglect our own vineyard then there is always danger at hand. There are various ways we can do this:
- If we are so busy serving others, and doing things for them, then we can so easily fail to nurture our own vineyard. If we do this relentlessly then we may well find ourselves impoverished in our souls. When such takes place we are hindered in being effective in helping others because there is nothing in our souls to pass on.
- We can be so busy serving in church that we forget our families. As a result relationships with our wives and children are not nurtured and there becomes a distance between us. When this happens things have become the wrong way round. When the vineyard of our family is parched and unproductive because of our neglect then we are compromising our other ministry. If we do not serve well those who are closest to us, we lose the validation for serving others outside the family sphere.
- Churches can be so taken up with evangelism that they fail to nurture the vineyard of the church as it is constituted. So members of the church hear of evangelism and became antipathetic towards it because they feel very neglected. ‘Evangelism’ they hear and rather than being excited they become begrudging of this activity. Churches need to be healthy in themselves before they can be a blessing to others.
In all this I am not saying that there is an either/or, but I am saying that there needs to be care in assessing and acting out our priorities.