Being raised on a farm, as a youth I had the privilege of witnessing the miracle of planting in order to harvest. I later began to experience the same law of success at work in my own personal life. As I studied the lives of both successful people and those who seem to be losers, I discovered that the law of the harvest is universal and timeless. It has no respect for age, financial status or religious beliefs. It can be our greatest asset or our greatest liability. We get to choose the seeds we plant into our minds, the soil of our lives.
Let’s look at how the seven laws of the harvest apply to our lives. They determine whether we reap a bountiful crop of (happiness, love and material abundance) or a crop of weeds (misery, anxiety, depression, and greed).
1. You will pick whatever you plant.
In other words, don’t plant anything you wouldn’t want to harvest. This idea seems to be so obvious. Yet it comes as a surprise to most people who have been consumed by a career or business for years only to discover they have lost their family and their soul in the process. They treat people dishonestly and wonder why others cheat them. What goes around, comes around!
They eat junk foods and fail to get proper exercise and wonder why they have heart attacks, become obese or lack energy and enthusiasm. A regular vacation seems like a waste of time, so weekends are spent working, eventually when their bodies become sick to give them rest, it’s a surprise! They abuse their bodies with tobacco and are shocked to discover they have cancer.
2. You always plant before you pick.
Our actions are all direct results of the seeds of thoughts we have planted in our past. The same applies to any harvest. The planting of the seed must take place first. Good crops can only be harvested if good seeds were first planted. However, too many people expect a harvest without planting any seeds. They plan to plant after they have harvested enough to satisfy all their needs. They will start to give to charities after they have paid off the mortgage and have put the kids through college. They will begin volunteering their time once they’re not so busy with their careers or businesses. They’ll be a friend after you become one first. They will be more positive once their situation improves. They will work harder and longer and take more responsibility after they receive that raise in pay. Get the picture? To think we can harvest before we plant makes no sense at all!
3. You perish before you prosper.
When a farmer places that seed into the soil he has carefully prepared for it, he is taking a great risk. He plants with the expectation of a harvest, knowing he can’t retrieve the seed, should it not germinate. He simply plants, knowing that the seed will die but at the same time believing new life will then spring forth. The farmer takes the risk and plants the seed, but he cannot make it grow. We need to take the risk and believe for the results.
It takes great faith to plant something that must die and we may never see again, but the risk is worth the rewards. Without death, there is no life. Without the possibility of loss, there could be no win.
4. You have to work at weeding.
As a child, I can remember farmers giving land a rest periodically. This practice is not very common today, but instead of planting a crop every year, they would simply cultivate it all summer to keep the weeds from growing and going to seed. This process is called “summer-fallow.” No seeds have been planted, yet the weeds seem to grow as though had been planted by an unseen hand.
This process appears to take place in our own lives as well and, unless we are continually sowing and cultivating the seeds of love, the weeds of envy and hate will begin to grow. Constantly feeding our minds with positive information will prevent the negativism from sprouting and shooting up, bearing a crop of weeds. Unless we’re making a positive impact on our families by sowing into their lives the seeds of caring, sharing and leading by example, we can be sure that their lives will bear a bountiful crop of weeds.
5. Patience pays off.
This principle applies to both good seeds and bad. It took seven years of burning the candle at both ends before it got so hot in the middle that I burnt out. It also took six months of applying balanced living principles before I really noticed a significant change in my physical, mental and spiritual condition.
Likewise, the abuse of our bodies with alcohol, tobacco, drugs, lack of exercise, a poor diet during their youth are the reasons many people spend their so-called “golden years” in poor health. After spending a lifetime working towards retirement, they arrive only to find misery, boredom and sickness. Unwittingly, many people exchange a full and long life for a few years of the “good times” (if you can call abuse of our bodies “good times”) followed by sickness and premature death.
6. It is always rough before you reap.
This harvest law will be a great source encouragement to those about to give up on the brink of a miracle. Our investment and our risks are greatest just before harvest. After the farmer plants the seed, he must continue investing time and money into his crop, cultivating and fertilizing it. As the investment increases, so does the risk. If you have been planting and praying or maintaining, don’t quit! Your crop could be just about to burst through the ground.
7. Perpetual planting equals repeated reaping.
Any farmer knows well that if he fed all of his grain to his livestock and didn’t save any seed for the next spring’s planting, he couldn’t expect a crop. Similarly, if he didn’t have the resources with which to buy seed, he couldn’t very well hope to have a harvest that fall. Don’t consume your entire harvest. Save some to plant.
Go for it; start planting today. It’s easy to know what seeds to plant, just determine what it is you want to reap. Remember the amount you harvest is determined by the amount you plant! To reap a bountiful harvest, we must plant good seeds generously, in faith believing that we will reap what we sow.
Ben Kubassek is an international expert on social entrepreneurship, author, and speaker. He’s on a mission to help young people in developing countries launch their own businesses in order to create jobs and bring transformation to their communities.
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