We want greenhouses but do not get them.

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A few things that I have been working on for 6 years are finally starting to happen.

Things I pushed on are picking up speed.

Things I didn’t even think could ever happen are starting to come together bit by bit.

But the truth is, if you told me 6 years ago that it would take me 6 years to do these things I would have told you, “I hate you.”

Maybe I wouldn’t have been that direct or blunt. I would have just said, “Thank you for your advice.” I would have shaken your hand and calmly walked away. But all the while, I would have been thinking you are mistaken. I would have thought I could go faster. That things would pick up speed sooner.

I wanted my career and dream to be a greenhouse. I didn’t want a long, slow hustle, I wanted a concentrated sprint. I wanted to plant a few things and then return days or maybe weeks later to see how fast the greenhouse had grown them. But here’s the truth:

Every dream is an orchard.

You might not believe you have trees, but you do.

You have rows and rows of seedlings. Small trees that will not provide fruit right now. Maybe not next year either.

That’s OK. It’s easy to knock down a greenhouse. They’re not the most stable of buildings.

An entire orchard? Acres and acres of land covered with slow growth trees?

That’s hard to defeat.

Desire a greenhouse all you want, I certainly did. But know this, if you want your dream to have meaning, for both you and the people you serve, you’re going to need an orchard.

About Author

Jon Acuff
Jon Acuff


  1. Man, I know that feeling…. I feel so strongly about my message that I want millions to hear it now. But the truth is I’m likely not ready for that overnight growth either. Sometimes the wait is helpful in that way, even if it is sometimes frustrating in the abstract.

  2. Jon,

    This is a perfect post! Growing up my dad always planted fruit trees… there would be years where it seemed we would never get apples. But finally after what seems like forever there came the year when we actually could pick and eat our own apples.

    The really neat thing is starting the trees is an extreme amount of work… but as they mature it requires less and less while the benefits get greater and great.

    I know there isn’t a shortcut to dreams, but people like you provide miraclegro!

  3. Reina

    Thank you for your honesty. I really needed this today.

  4. I’m glad for the slow growth at this point. I’m not ready to go any faster. The greenhouse will collapse without a foundation! Thanks and congratulations Jon!

  5. Entrice

    Thanks for the timely word!

  6. So needed to read this today. Thank you Jon!

  7. Same with health and weight loss. Fast is not necessarily better. I lost 100 lbs slow and steady and have been able to actually keep it off for quite a while.

  8. Patience is sooo hard! Thanks for keeping it real Jon. My dream of writing is finally gaining momentum. Slow but sure;)

  9. Alana Williams

    God places people in our midst to remind us of His greatness. We will keep on sowing along side of you, and in God’s perfect time, we will pick the fruit from our orchards.

    I also want to thank Mrs. Jenny for her recent post on starting our day with our spouses. What a difference it’s making in my life.


  10. Bryan Orr

    True that

  11. Wendy

    You sir, have moved me to tears. Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing this. 🙂

  12. Lisa

    Great analogy! Coincidentally I was walking by my puny fruit trees this morning and thinking I needed to plant more this year.

  13. So, so true. Funny – I was reflecting on this same thing earlier this week. Instead of growing an orchard, though, I’ve been riding a glacier.

  14. That is good. We all want to see results so fast, but the farmer knows the non-negotiable importance of patience. I am growing a bunch of hot and super-hot pepper plants right now, and it won’t be tomorrow when i scorch my mouth on them. (Ghost peppers and Trinidad Moruga Scorpions in case you’re wondering)

    But i know that my patience and perseverance will surely pay off, when i can sell dehydrated pods and seed bags, as well as enjoy them myself!

    Jon, do you like hot peppers?

  15. Jon thanks for this! It certainly is a timely word. As we continue to hustle towards our ministry (our dream), we find growth is slower than we would like. Lately even discouraging and weary. Your words however were a breath of life. http://www.cooltableministries.org

  16. This post is so timely. Just this morning I was thinking about the industry I have shifted to. By the time I am ready to open my brick & mortar store, it will be about 5 years from now. That means I will then have a total of 8 years of bra-making experience. That’s pretty legit as far as street credit goes.

    Thanks Jon!

  17. This is so comforting actually. There is so much to look forward to.

  18. Hi, so I know this has nothing to do with the article, but the link to email you wasn’t working on my computer, sorry! I know you have a ton of fans and you might not even read this, but I have a small favor to ask. About a month ago you pinned a barista competition and asked if people would vote for your friend Terry. I couldn’t vote because I’m under 18, but that’s beside the point. I’m doing a school project on trafficking and I’m very interested in your friend’s story! I was wondering if she had a website/email/book/written-up story that I could contact her or read as part of my project. I am trying to get as many real person examples as I can. Thank you so much for your time, I love your blog!

    • Normandy
      there isn’t anything online about Terry’s story. She doesn’t even own a computer. Thanks for your interest in her story, it’s a pretty amazing one!

      Jenny Acuff (aka Jon’s wife)

  19. True enough. Part of the problem is that some people have greenhouses. Particularly when I was right out of college I saw the few people my age who had greenhouses and I thought I was failing because I didn’t have one.

  20. Pretty sure I’m right around year one. Alrighty!

  21. Brian

    Reminds me of Dave Ramsey’s comment about being a 20 year overnight wonder.

    By the way, one of the most unselfish things you can do is keep planting trees so that people who live after you may eat the fruit of your vision. What are you doing that can have lasting impact?

  22. Rodney Eason

    Nice analogy. Greenhouses also need care 24/7/365 or they are subject to fail.
    Orchards are beautiful. People who know how to graft fruit trees are artists because it has taken years and tons of failure to perfect their craft.
    I could unpack this for hours but this is your orchard. Take time to enjoy the harvest.

  23. Excellent post Jon, beautiful analogy. I’ve always thought about all the things I am doing/want to do as in a greenhouse, everything has to sprout and grow at once. I appreciate you explaining how some of the things that are turning into reality now took years to grow. It’s good to be reminded of that.

    I think I will reframe all of my various projects that are swirling around me in different levels of development as seedlings, in growth, first blossoms, fruit ready for picking…it’s a great visual reminder that projects have a life of their own and need time and nurturing, just like an orchard or vineyard.

  24. Yes, we’re all in a hurry to be “successful” (myself included). But a bountiful yield is a consequence of hard work, right? Excellence day in and out for an extended period of time produces true success.

  25. Michael Sherman

    In the past few years, I have really come to appreciate the wisdom and value of incremental growth and change, particularly where we are leading other people. Reminds me of something I once heard (can’t remember the source): we can do far less in a year than we think we can, and far more in ten.

  26. I just saw the title of your wife’s new book! I think I should have co-authored it! Haha–I’ll be looking forward to it’s release. 🙂

  27. Thanks Jon! I appreciated three things especially from your post:

    1. The idea that our dreams are orchards! I believe that and must hold on to that vision.
    2. The reality that our dreams don’t happen overnight – so we must persevere!
    3. Your example of leading the way and testifying that if we keep at it – the seeds will grow into trees and eventually an orchard.

    I have a dream of helping married couples everywhere learn to communicate and process conflict in a manner that is completely governed by love. I am back at the long, slow hustle today – looking at the orchard in my dream!