According to Seattle Pacific University President Dan Martin, the concept of rich soil from the Parable of the Sower is vital to ensure fulfillment of both individuals and organizations.
He believes this parable grounds both one’s individual calling and a group’s mission.
Martin, who is in his fifth year of presidency, was the featured speaker at Tuesday’s chapel service as part of this quarter’s chapel series focused on the concept of discipleship and the book of Luke.
As Martin highlighted, the Parable of the Sower is centered around the concept of a person’s willingness to accept and follow the gospel.
“The sower is the Holy Spirit, the seed is the gospel of grace, and the soil is the human heart,” Martin said.
During his sermon, Martin also emphasized the importance of resembling a seed that falls on good soil, rather than a seed that falls on hard, rocky or thorny soil.
“The seed [that] falls on the good soil … [has] been prepared to receive. It’s germinated, it grows, and it produces a great harvest that benefits the farmer and those who receive its abundance,” Martin said.
Martin added that the idea of being a seed that falls on good soil is important to Christians, as living in the “good soil” brings Christians closer to Christ and strengthens their faith.
“This can be seen in those that commit their life to Christ,” Martin said. “I’ve heard it described before that a thriving, growing Christian is one [who] reflects a life where we become more like Him, where we behave more like Him and where we’re burdened more like Him.”
In fact, the Parable of the Sower had such an impact on Martin that he wrote his 2014 book, “Rich Soil: Transforming Your Organization’s Landscape for Maximum Effectiveness,” about the topic.
Martin, whose academic studies are focused on organizational culture and performance, concentrated on the qualities of organizations that reside in the different types of soil that are described throughout the parable.
One of Martin’s questions when writing was how an organization can be moved into rich soil so that it may “fulfill its mission.”
“There’s eight elements of rich soil that I identified,” Martin said. “Reason, imagination, clarity, harmony, strategic, operational, implementation and then leadership.”
Martin also connected the Parable of the Sower back to the SPU community and the university’s Free Methodist roots.
Martin specifically spoke about B.T. Roberts, a Free Methodist bishop.
Roberts believed that the “church’s mission was to focus on the disempowered in our society, especially the victims of political and economic injustice,” Martin said.
“Our responsibility [is] to become the sowers in this world,” Martin said.
Martin spoke about how many of the efforts and programs at SPU would not be successful had the university been in “poor soil.”
He noted the university’s work to promote racial and ethnic diversity over the last 18 months, including the anticipated hiring of the university’s first Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
“We need to be about plowing, cultivating, and sowing seeds of community, of diversity, of justice, and of contemplation,” Martin said.