The Jade Plant

Several years ago I had a really cool, HUGE, old jade plant. Every time people walked into my office, they would comment, “cool plant!” One time a guy from Texas came to our office and he loved my jade plant so much that I chopped off a big portion for him to take home and re-pot. In fact, there were several times I cut off big branches of that jade and shared them with people who later told me their new plant was thriving. Then our office changed and frankly the entire organization kind of fell apart. I relocated my jade to my new office space.

After a few months in the new space, my jade plant wasn’t looking so good. It had gone from healthy and robust to limp and lifeless. When the jade plant finally fell and the once mighty plant was declared dead, I began the clean up process. What I discovered was that the inside of the jade’s trunk was completely rotten! It was the craziest thing! Some green leaves still appeared to be growing, but the inside was completely dead.

This whole jade plant experience reminds me that what we see on the outside is not always consistent with what’s on the inside. Sometimes people, families, organizations and endeavors look very good, very “up and to the right,” but in reality, the middle is rotten. Sometimes a rotten middle is a narcissistic leader at the helm, or the mismanagement of resources, or perhaps a disgruntled staff. But whatever it may be, rotten middles always reveal themselves in time, and they always bring death and destruction. That is why interior health must be a priority for leaders, families, churches, and businesses.

Scripture tells us, “Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” We are well into this new year 2013, and there is no time like the present to do the difficult work of examining our hearts before God and taking whatever next action steps are needed to participate with God in our healing and renewing. Here is a simple starting guide, if you are unsure where to begin:

  1. Be still with God. Examine the jade plant of your life, not just the exterior leaves that everyone sees and admires, but also the inner thoughts, emotions and motivations.
  2. If any part of this slow examination causes you shame or sadness, notice it.
  3. Sit with the noticing, as if you are looking deep into the core of the jade plant, seeing the colors, feeling the textures, maybe smelling the stench.
  4. If needed, confess your diseased-ness and your need for God’s help.
  5. Ask God for wisdom to know what steps may be needed.
  6. Make a movement in the direction of healing and restoration.


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