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Stories We Tell: When a Pest is Your Best Friend
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 By Barry Kimbrough

When a Pest is Your Best Friend

A monument to a pest stands in Enterprise, Alabama.  The honoree is a Mexican boll weevil.   In 1915 the bug destroyed the cotton crops in Coffee County.  Something had to be done or the local economy would collapse.
Local farmers switched to peanuts.  Within two years profits soared far beyond those of the previous cotton business.  Enterprise became the peanut capital of the world.  Little wonder that the people began to see the old pest in a new light.

The plaque reads:  “In profound appreciation of the Boll Weevil and what it has done as the Herald of Prosperity, this monument was erected by the citizens of Enterprise, Coffee County, Alabama.”

In life and ministry we face many potential “pests.” Possibly a difficult church member, a major church conflict, feeling spread too thin over a large district…you name it.  These or any one of a thousand other irritations can easily get us down.  We don’t often consider that the very problem can be a catalyst for growth and change if we learn to adjust and persevere by God’s grace.  “In times of change,” writes Eric Hoffer, “learners inherit the earth.”

Paul wrote of the spiritual perspective of trials, “…we know that for those who love God all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28 ESV).  The ultimate good is our personal transformation:  “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (verse 29). 

The greater the pain, the more profound the learning experience.  And the bigger the spiritual and ministerial profit we will realize.  But only if the experience drives us to prayer and the Savior.  He alone can guide us through the maze and lead us to the heights of freedom.  From that vantage point, we will remember our worst challenge in ministry as our best gift because we found that it helped us far more than all compliments and honors put together. 

Barry Kimbrough is a pastor in the Southern New England Conference