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Pause for Thought: Plant a Seed

Do you have a bright idea?

by Brian Radcliffe

Suitable for Key Stage 3


To explore our understanding of how to harness bright ideas.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a few packets of seeds. Alternatively, you can show an image of some seeds. An example is available at:
  • You will need to be familiar with Jesus’ parable about the seeds and the soil, which is found in Matthew 13.1–9.


  1. Has anyone ever grown anything from seed? This is the time of year to do so if you expect results by summer.

    Show some packets of seeds or the image of some seeds. Use them to illustrate the following section.

    Some seeds, such as peas and beans, are large. Others, such as carrots or most flowering plants, are tiny. Some seeds, both large and small, can be planted directly into the soil outdoors. Others require sowing in seed trays indoors or in a greenhouse until they are strong enough to be planted outdoors. All seeds must be protected from scavengers such as rabbits, mice, squirrels and birds as well as the insect pests that are too tiny to see. Growing plants from seeds can be a difficult business.

  2. Jesus told a story about planting seeds. Actually, it was more about the type of ground in which the seeds were planted. He described a man sowing some seeds over a mixed patch of land. Some seeds fell not on the soil, but on the adjacent pathway. The birds perched in the surrounding trees immediately flew down and gobbled them up.

    Other seeds fell on stony ground, where the soil was shallow. This soil was warm, so the seeds germinated rapidly, but when a spell of dry weather came along, the young plants withered from lack of water. Their roots hadn’t been able to push down deep enough.

    Some of the other seeds fell on land that contained lots of weeds. The weeds were mature plants, so they dominated the new growth. These seedlings were also doomed.

    However (drum roll, please!), some of the seeds fell on an area of soil that was deep, weed-free and full of compost, water and nutrients. Thankfully, the seeds that landed here flourished and produced huge numbers of flowers and crops.

  3. Growing seeds can be a difficult and complex business.

Time for reflection

‘Planting a seed’ is also a phrase that’s frequently used to describe how a bright idea first comes to us. It might be something that a teacher says during a lesson that stimulates the idea. It might be something that we read in a book or online. It might be sparked by a TV programme. If we’re the imaginative type, it might be a spontaneous seed that comes to us as a surprise. It’s never fully formed; it’s more of a ‘what if?’ idea. It needs pondering, maybe trying out or researching. Like the seed, the idea needs to be encouraged to grow.

So, how can we do this?

First, we can all be expectant for ideas. Nobody is beyond the reach of an idea, a moment of realization, an urge to do something new. None of us are like the pathway where no seed can grow. Nobody should believe that they are beyond the reach of better things.

Second, it’s important to go beyond initial enthusiasm. We’ve all experienced fads - brief interests that don’t last - but when we realize that some idea, challenge or opportunity is significant, that’s the time to put down some roots. This might mean contacting people for advice, researching the topic or getting hold of equipment so that we can try it out. If there are early disappointments, we must face up to them. Don’t give up easily. Don’t take any notice of the discouragement of others.

Third, we must beware of competing attractions that can overwhelm our plans. There are plenty of them around, particularly on screen. We should develop a routine, a little bit of self-discipline that ensures that there’s always time to devote to the development of our seed idea.

Finally, let’s enjoy the benefits when our bright idea comes into flower. If we’re open to change and new things in our lives, if we’re inquisitive about opportunities, if we’re prepared to keep an open mind, it’s astonishing what might happen. It might take time; seeds don’t grow into plants overnight. Nevertheless, it will be well worth it.

Extension activities

  1. Plant a pot of seeds as a symbol of your hope for the future. Cress, white mustard or radishes are an easy, cheap choice to try. Remember not to put too many seeds in the pot, and remember to water them regularly.

  2. Listen and look out for other bright ideas while you wait for the seeds to grow.
Publication date: April 2021   (Vol.23 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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