Mar 20

A Morton Salt Ministry: When It Rains, It Pours

A 1952 Ad for Morton Salt from the Morton Salt Website

A 1952 Poster from the Morton Salt Co. website

The sight of a cylindrical, indigo blue box of Morton salt always turns my heart back to my mother’s and grandmother’s kitchen during the days of my childhood. The famous Morton Umbrella Girl, which today is one of the most widely recognized consumer product symbols in America,[1] was created for a marketing campaign which ran six years before my father was born and long before my childhood infatuation with her began. Many’s the time, while wandering my grandmother’s backyard and sprinkling salt from a Morton’s mini-sized shaker onto a piece of watermelon or a slice of apple, I have pondered the motto: “When it rains, it pours.”

This slogan was created in 1914 to advertise that Morton salt flowed freely, even in damp weather. At the beginning of the last century, all table salt had the tendency to cake together when it got damp; but by adding magnesium carbonate to its product, the Morton Salt Company solved this problem—and made history. Later this additive was changed to calcium silicate, and in 1924 another ingredient was added to their salt—iodide—to aid in the prevention of goiters. Today, although most brands of table salt now contain these ingredients, Morton Salt continues to retain its popularity with consumers. While its packaging has been modernized, its appearance still looks much the same as it did ninety-five years ago; the all-important contents of the package remain unchanged. Four generations of Americans have learned to trust its unpretentious claim, “When it rains, it pours,” and have not been disappointed.[2]

Nearly forty years later I still find myself pondering the Morton salt motto. Expressing the homely wisdom of a bygone era, it gently reminds me that my life and ministry for Christ should always display the same simplicity, usefulness, integrity, and truthfulness as a box of table salt. In an age when Christian ministry and ministers are marketed, the gospel is packaged and “spun”, and worship has been replaced with entertainment, we would all do well to maintain “truth in advertising” in our own life and ministry. While acknowledging the rights due to the Morton trademark, I have chosen their slogan to become my own personal watchword in ministry: “When it rains, it pours.”

First, “When it rains, it pours” means that I aim to be no fair-weather minister of Christ. Although no man can ever be at his best 100% of the time, I am commanded to be “instant in season, out of season” (2Tim 4:2). People in need of spiritual help don’t always seek it at the time or in the manner most convenient to myself. In times of physical or emotional weakness I am tempted to avoid ministry and hide from those who have needs. At other times I consider myself to be “off duty” and therefore unavailable for ministry. But invariably my behavior and speech should “be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Col 4:6). This seasoning grace may be defined as Christ’s power made operative in my weakness (2Cor 12:9) and distributed through me to the needs of those to whom I minister. This grace of Christ in my life is the salt additive which alone enables me to “pour” when it “rains.”

“When it rains, it pours” also means that I intend to maintain the sincerity and integrity of my character in ministry. Christ instructs us, “Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another” (Mark 9:50). In order to minister effectively for Christ I must maintain high ethical and moral standards in my own behavior (both public and private) and in my relationships with others (in the home, in the church, and in the world). The world in which we live is corrupt, and a corrupting influence; Christ intended not only that Christians should be uncorrupt in themselves, but a positive preservative influence in their society as well. The more I am like the world, the less influence I have upon it. Conversely, the more I am like Christ, the more influence I exercise over those to whom I minister. The level of my influence for Christ will never rise above the level of my likeness to Christ.

Finally, “When it rains, it pours” means that I have determined to conduct my ministry in simple dependence upon the effectual power of the Word of God alone. There will be no appeal to gimmickry, entertainment, pop-psychology, worldly music, or fleshly appetites. These things are the staple of most Christian “ministry” which is taking place today. But like salt sans iodine, these methodologies have produced an unhealthy, goiterous, samaritan Christianity which fails to produce the fruit of changed lives in those who imbibe its influence. “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Matt 5:13). But the pure gospel is still God’s power unto salvation to those who believe (Rom 1:16). The Word is living and powerful (Heb 4:12) and when it is preached it “effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1Thes 2:13). It is the preaching of the Word, in season and out, in prayerful dependence upon the Spirit of God, that saves sinners, changes lives, produces fruit, exalts Christ, and glorifies God.

In October, 2009, Dow Chemical Co. completed the sale of the Morton Salt Co. to a German corporation for US $1.7 billion.[3] It is a little sad to think of such an iconic American company passing under the control of a foreign corporation, but such is the nature of the global economy in which we now live. We can only hope that its new owners will not make too many changes and that the Morton Umbrella Girl[4] will continue to smile at us from our kitchen cupboards and supermarket shelves for many more years to come. As we view the condition of Christianity in our world today, a similar state of doubtfulness exists in our minds as to whether it can survive and continue into the next generation as well. The widespread moral, ethical, doctrinal, and spiritual confusion in the churches and institutions of protestant Christianity world-wide suggests the possibility of its ceasing to exist altogether in the historic form in which we have known it. This state of affairs is largely due to the abandonment of “Morton Salt ministry” as the staple of ministerial philosophy by those who should know better.

Morton SaltThose who remain committed to Morton Salt ministry can have confidence that the true, spiritual Church of Christ cannot fail; Christ promised, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18). Those who turn away from the healthful, useful, and effectual properties of Morton Salt ministry lose their saltiness and are destined for the trash heaps of history—and of eternity. But those who are committed to the philosophy “When it rains, it pours” experience the satisfaction of co-laboring with God, the thrill of effectual spiritual power in ministry, and the joy of fruit that remains. As you develop your own personal philosophy of ministry, don’t forget the salt!

[1]“Morton Salt”, Wikipedia (, [viewed on March 20, 2010].
[2]“A Pinch of Salt, A Handful of History”, Morton Salt Website (, [viewed on March 20, 2010].
[3]“Morton Salt”, Wikipedia, Ibid.
[4]An interesting survey of the ad art created for the Umbrella Girl can be viewed at “Salty—Morton Salt’s Umbrella Girls”, Typesett blog (April 5, 2009; Another related link can be found at “Lucia Lerner: Commercial Artist”, Today’s Inspiration blog (Sep. 12, 2007;

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