Picking the low-hanging fruit

At The Young Clergy Women Project conference this summer, keynote speaker Dr. Margaret Aymer taught participants how to design contextual Bible studies with a missional bent. Every discussion of scripture, she said, should conclude with a commitment to action: what small, immediately-doable step can we take in light of what we’ve learned together?

Creative Commons "Apple Tree" by Brad Greenlee is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Creative Commons “Apple Tree” by Brad Greenlee is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Dr. Aymer used a fruit tree metaphor for sorting possible action items. Low-hanging fruit can be gleaned without too much effort. As you reach for fruit further up the tree, you’ll need a taller stepladder, exert more energy, and take more risk. (You’ll also be able to pick fewer fruits at a time, since you’ll have to juggle your harvest and hold onto the ladder.)

I’ve found the fruit tree metaphor very useful the past few weeks:

What fruit is hanging within easy reach? What small course corrections can I make that will yield big results?

What low-hanging fruit do I need to leave hanging so that others can glean it? How can I be a Boaz and empower the Ruths around me?

When do I really need to break out the stepladder? Have I plucked all the fruit I can/should with both feet on solid ground? Or is the fruit that grows further up somehow more substantive?

How can I minimize the risk? Or, shifting perspective a bit, whom do I need to hold the ladder for me as I climb and to tell me how to reach fruit I can’t easily see?

May your theological discussions and the initiatives that come out of them be fruit-full.

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