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Nothing Grows under the Banyan Tree

"Nothing grows under a banyan tree." This South Indian proverb speaks of leadership styles. The banyan is a great tree. It spreads its branches, drops air-roots, develops secondary trunks and covers the land. A full grown banyan may cover more than an acre of land. Birds, animals, and humans find shelter under its shade. But nothing grows under its dense foliage, and when it dies, the ground beneath lies barren and scorched.

The banana tree is the opposite. Six months after it sprouts, small shoots appear around it. At twelve months a second circle of shoots appear beside the first ones, now six months old. At eighteen months the main trunk bears bananas which nourish birds, animals, and humans, and then it dies. But the first offspring are now full grown, and in six months they too bear fruit and die. The cycles continue unbroken as new sprouts emerge every six months, grow, give birth to more sprouts, bear fruit, and die.

Some leaders are like the banyan trees. They have great influence and their ministries are widely productive and beneficial. However, they do not prepare for the transitions which will allow for the emergence of other leaders. They only equip followers, not leaders.

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