What Bamboo Can Teach You!


Have you ever given up on something that you really wanted, because you got tired of trying?  I have! I have given up on sports, games, books, foods, piano music, and relationships – just to name a few. The things I list are all things that were important to me, but the results were just taking too long.

I tend to focus on the end game – the outcomes – the results. Not only do I have my eyes on the finish line, but I want it to come quickly.  Deep inside (maybe not that deep) I have a timer that is always running. I don’t intentionally set the timer; it just happens for me.

I wonder how many kinds of cheese I might enjoy if I hadn’t expected to fall in love with the flavor on my first bite. I wonder how many piano compositions I might have mastered if I had kept practicing them instead of giving up. Actually, I wonder if any of my kids would play piano today if I hadn’t gotten tired of the complaining and the wrong notes and hung in there longer. If I look back in my career, I can think of leaders that gave up on a member of their team because they weren’t “getting it.” What about the person you invited to join you and your friends and they said no?  Might they be your friend today if you had reached out a few more times?

I can’t go back in time, and neither can you, but we can each have a different perspective moving forward if we choose to. Let me share something I heard at church last Sunday that I think can apply to many of the situations we find ourselves in. It is the story of the bamboo tree.

If you want to grow a Chinese Bamboo tree, you plant a seed and you water it. You water it faithfully and give it the proper nutrition for a year and what do you get?  NOTHING! No sign of life coming through the soil. But, you have faith, so you take care of it for another year with water and soil nutrients.  Again – NOTHING!   You do this for 4 years, and then over a 90 day period a bamboo tree grows before your very eyes. A Chinese Bamboo tree can grow 80 feet in 6 weeks. But, did the tree really grow 80 feet in 6 weeks after lying dormant for 4 years?  Or was growth happening and you just couldn’t see it? Was the little tree growing a support system underground?  Did it take nearly 5 years to create a strong foundation that could support exponential growth? The answer is obvious. The tree didn’t grow 80 feet in 6 weeks – it grew 80 feet in 5 years. 

I love this story as I consider the people and things in my life AND in myself that need patience, perseverance and a strong foundation. I think that we never know how close we are to the growth spurt we desperately want! So,, what in your life might you want to stick with just a bit longer?


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