Marissa Mayer was 36 years old when she became president and CEO of Yahoo. She was married and had two children, one of whom was an infant. She was on quite a few of those who’s who lists put out by organizations like Forbes and NYT, etc. Top ten this, number one that. In an interview for one of those organizations she was asked how she managed to wear so many hats and get it all done. Her answer? “You have to ruthlessly prioritize”. Pruning is about prioritizing. What stays and what goes? Prioritizing is about fruit, remember? I want the vineyard to be attractive; to have curb appeal. But that’s not why I grow it and work so hard in it. It’s the fruit, dummy! So I prune it. And that pruning is strategic and forward looking. How can I get the most fruit and the best fruit? If you did a drive by of the vineyard today you’d see vines that were ruthlessly pruned two weeks ago. There’s not much left but two inch nubs where once long branches grew, intertwining to form beautiful thick emerald green cascades of vegetation. There are gaps in the vine where there isn’t even so much as a nub left. That’s the place where there was a branch that had no fruit last year. Here’s a truth, a hard truth but a necessary truth: a branch that bore no fruit last year would never bear fruit. That’s why it is gone. Not just pruned but eliminated. Any branch that does not bear fruit is cut off because if it doesn’t bear fruit now, it never will. That sounds ruthless but Jesus said it so there must be something to it. If appearance is what you’re after, leave it and let it grow. You’ll have a nice thick vine that will bear less and less fruit the longer you let that fruitless branch grow because that fruitless branch will sprout other fruitless branches. Eventually there will be no fruit. Its true. True of the vine. True of your life. True of the church or any organization or business. Henry Cloud says: “Your business and your life will change when you really, really get it that some people are never going to change, no matter what you do, and that still others have a vested interest in being destructive.” (Necessary Endings) A branch that bears no fruit today will never bear fruit. And I catch myself saying: Yeah, but…. that sounds so ruthless; almost unchristian. It depends on your priority. Do you want fruit or are you satisfied with appearances?  It gets more ruthless still… Those fruitless branches that I cut off…? I rake them up, bag them up and throw them away. Jesus said they’re supposed to piled up and burned but in Polk County, Florida you’re not allowed to do that. Here’s the reason they have to go and its not about appearances. Of course I don’t want dead unsightly clippings around the vineyard but the important reason they have to go is that they breed insects and disease that can get in the ground and infect the healthy vines. Sounds ruthless but they have to go. When a cancer is surgically removed from a person there is also usually some additional form of treatment like chemo or radiation to make sure any microscopic cells are eliminated and do not have a chance to grow again and spread. We are chosen and appointed to bear much fruit. Fruit that lasts. As hard, should I say ruthless, as it sounds our Father, the Vinedresser, will do what is necessary to fulfill his purpose for us. Be Fruitful after all is the first command of God to humans.

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