I've just been in the garden, where we have a tree of cooking cherries. It was planted by the previous owners, and this year Sara put a net around it, so that the birds wouldn't be able to eat the ripening cherries like they did last year. I did nothing towards the project - but check out the harvest I just gathered!

I was reminded as I was picking them of Jesus' words in John 4:38:

"I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labour."

This led on to reflecting about how so often we might see a degree of fruit or 'Kingdom success' in worship ministires, and it can be very easy at that point try to take the credit for ourselves. However, so much is reliant on people who have gone before us. If your church sings with passion and strength, is that due to your worship leading, or a heritage of singing passed down from previous ministers, worship leaders or choir-masters? If there is a vibrant spirituality, does that eminate from your team or can it be traced back to faithful intercessors from years gone by? If you've got a great youth band, is that down to your mentoring, or the influence of their parents or school teachers?

My own ministry has been profoundly shaped by David Peacock - a man who has invested so much in the worship life of the UK church and is just retiring as head of Music and Worship at London School of Theology. Dave has mentored me since I was on the course about 11 years ago. He has given me many opportunities to get involved with projects and events. He has given me wise advice and encouragement. And now, as he retires, I am priveliged and humbled to be involved in continuing the courses at LST he worked his life to make happen. Truly I feel that I am reaping the benefits of his labour. I have so much to thank him for.

Having reflected on this, I was also reminded of the passage in 1 Cor 3:6-7, where Paul says:

"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow."

It is important to honour those who have gone before us, and recognise their influence in shaping the ministries we may be involved with. But this passage reminds us that ultimately, the glory must go to God. The old house owners planted the tree, Sara put the net over it, but God made it grow. Your ministry, your gifts, your Kingdom success: if it means anything from an eternal perspective then it is because God has graciously caused it to grow and make a difference.

That means I need to remember to be humble. To rely on God in prayer. To be grateful for his gracious, abundant giving. And to be generous in sharing the fruits of the harvest with others. So who wants some cherry pie?...

Image of David Peacock by Steven Creamer