4A * Don't surrender because of early difficulty.
Three of the four soils failed to produce good fruit. Is Jesus suggesting that 75% of our efforts will go for naught? No, but sometimes it can seem that way. Some churches are hard to pastor, others are easier. Some missionaries see amazing results. Others struggle for years with little to show for their efforts. Good soil can be hard to find. The flip side is that when you find it, it can produce amazing results. And some people will be thirty-fold, some sixty, and some a hundred-fold in what they produce for the Kingdom. God can do a lot with a little. That's the encouraging news from this parable. A few seeds sown in good soil can ultimately revolutionize a church, a town, a school, a family, a neighborhood, or when God wills it so, an entire region.
5A * Your introductory judgment of people will often be wrong.
This truth cuts both ways. You can't tell by looking what sort of heart a person has. That is, you can't infallibly know who will respond to the ministry of the Word and produce the good fruit Jesus talked about in this parable. As the seed is sown in many places, it will find its place in many hearts. You simply cannot tell in advance how people will respond over the long haul. Some people you "knew" would make good elders and deacons will fall away or be tripped up by the cares of this world. And sometimes the unlikeliest people will become mature believers.
We have to give the Word time to do its own work. Eventually the Word reveals the true condition of every heart.
6A * Sow widely because you don't know where the good soil is.
The farmer in this parable "telecast" his seed. He carried it in a pouch slung around his neck and threw handfuls in every direction. He knows he that a certain amount of the seed will fall on the beaten path where it cannot take root. What the farmer doesn't know——and can't know——is where the stones and thorns are just under the surface. And therefore he also doesn't know where the good soil is that produces last fruit. So it is in his own best interests to sow his seed as widely as possible. The same is true in local church ministry. The best way to reach more people is to sow the seed of the Word in as many ways possible, using every avenue open to you, reaching out to every age and every interest group you can find.
7A * When you find good soil, cultivate it.
It's easy for a pastor to be sidetracked into a thousand things that don't really matter in the ministry. I meet pastors all the time who work hard, stay busy all week long, and have their hands in a thousand things at once. That's generally a recipe for eventual burnout. No one can do it all.
When you find good soil, cultivate it. That's what Jesus did. Though he spoke to the masses, and though he had time for individuals, he gave the majority of his time to training the twelve. He found them, he called them, he trained them, and he allowed them to come alongside and be with him up close and personal. He poured himself into that small band of men knowing that after his departure, they would become the leaders of the movement he had started.
Don't miss the point.
No one really knows what the pastor's job is. Even if you have a job description, it's usually so general as to be almost useless. I don't know a single pastor who consults his job description in the morning to figure out what he should be doing during the day. If you have 100 people in your church, you've got 100 bosses, each with their own perception of what you should be doing. If you fall into the trap of trying to please them all, your ministry is bound is fail or you will end up frustrated and ineffective. And it's not as if I can tell you, "This is what you should be doing," because churches and ministry cultures vary so widely. Part of it you'll have to figure out on your own. That takes time and patience and prayer and wisdom from on high. Plus it helps if you listen to your wife and to a circle of trusted advisors.