Over the weekend, I was carrying two new plant pots, one of which was pretty large, and 3 African Violets out of Home Depot when a kind, older gentleman offered to help. I declined his offer (I’m just one of those people who can’t let people do things for me… ugh!), and explained that it was actually very lightweight, despite its ceramic appearance. Trying to make small talk, I guess, he asked “so how many of those do you have? A house full, I bet.” I told him that I really only had about 6 or 7, but that I couldn’t deny how much I love plants. In fact, I recently ordered this one online since I couldn’t find it in any of the local garden stores. Isn’t it beautiful?

It's a prayer plant, so named because its leaves "close" (point upward) at night, like praying hands. Cool, huh?

Anyway, I told the gentleman that I love plants because tending to them always gives me revelation. Plus, it’s just awesome to see God in nature – it makes you realize just how detailed and orderly and thoughtful and creative and just how HUGE He really is.

**this is a good place to bust out in a rendition of “How Great Thou Art” (can’t you hear it? Then sings my souuuuuuuul, my Savior God, to Thee: How great Thou art…)** Okay, so back to the point…

I explained to Kind Old Guy that I had a plant that I had nurtured from its baby stages for the past couple of years, and that after flourishing for months, it suddenly stopped growing. (Raise your hand if you know where I’m going with this). Now, I’m not new to this whole plant thing (and I’m a pretty smart chick in general *toot, toot*), so I knew immediately what that meant.

You see, my plant had outgrown its pot. As plants are nourished properly (with water, fertilizer and sunlight – and talking to it doesn’t hurt either), they begin to grow. Their roots will extend further and further into the pot (or ground), and they will stretch out as far as their soil base will allow. When there’s no more room for them to stretch out, they will become “pot-bound” and the roots will begin to grow around each other, getting all coiled and tangled and basically strangling the plant. You’ll know the plant has outgrown its pot because it will stop growing, or will grow a lot more slowly than usual. Some of the leaves may begin to wilt or fade, and eventually, the plant may even die.

That's my baby! Notice how a couple of her leaves are fading?

Just as plants can outgrow their pots, leaders can outgrow their assignments. And hey, growth is not a bad thing. In fact, Colossians 2:7 says, “Have the roots [of your being] firmly and deeply planted [in Him, fixed and founded in Him], being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving” (AMP). Peter makes it clear that if we hunger for the sincere milk of the word, we’ll grow (I Pet 2:2), and that we should grow in grace (II Pet 3:18). Growth is good. And it’s a normal part of the life-cycle. If you don’t believe me, take a look at your kid (or at your high school graduation pics).

What are the signs you’ve outgrown your assignment?

You’ve succeeded in and fulfilled the current assignment, AND:

1. You’re no longer growing. If you’re not learning anything, being challenged, pushed, expanded, or stretched beyond your comfort zone, it’s possible you’ve outgrown your assignment and are ready to advance to something new.

2. You’re cramped or immobile. When your roots (or core assignment) are no longer enabling you to move about and explore new ideas, tapping into creativity and inspiration, your pot could be too small for you.

3. You’re chronically unfulfilled. No matter how much you’re “fed” or nourished, you still aren’t finding any satisfaction from the assignment. (And yes, God’s assignments do yield satisfaction).

4. You’re wilted. When there’s no energy fueling your work, no more excitement, you feel as “blah” and drab as you look, you probably need a bigger pot.

5. You’re not effective. Perhaps the most telling sign of becoming pot-bound is that you’re no longer effective in areas where you once were. If the people under your leadership are no longer growing, you’re unable to excel and accomplish new things, fix what’s broken, or improve what is outdated or worn, you may have reached your capacity in that pot.

Each of these, when examined alone, could mean a host of other things. Maybe you’re just burned out. Or maybe you’ve lost your connection with God. Or perhaps your skills need to be polished. But chances are, if all five are in play, it’s time for a bigger pot.

Just to make sure we’re clear: I don’t suggest you run off to Home Depot shopping for new pots to try to re-pot yourself. Sit still and pray. Talk to your pastor (or if you’re the pastor, talk to a trusted confidant or your spiritual leader). No need to hurry, unless of course, God has already spoken and you’re just sitting around waiting for someone to come re-pot you. In that case, you’re probably strangling yourself, which could turn out pretty badly.

Side Note: Yes, I realize how… ummm… weird this article is. I decided to embrace the thorn in my side instead of running from it. So if I sound a little ADDish, it’s because that’s how my brain was working today. 🙂