All behavior and all choices – both good and bad – stem from one process. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrases, what goes around comes around, you’ll reap what you sow, or even karma’s a ____. All these phrases are rooted in one powerful principle that drives all behavior. That is the Principle of Sowing and Reaping.
If we don’t understand how this principle works, it’ll wreak havoc in our lives and families. Selfishness and bad behavior will ultimately take over and more will continue to grow, creating a cycle that’s really hard to break.
Yes, I literally meant grow. That’s because all behavior and decisions start with a seed. That seed is a thought. If that thought-seed (whatever it is) is allowed to stay, lounge around, and grab a few meals – chances are it’s going to stay and grow more.
As that thought hangs around for awhile, it’s going to force itself out of your mouth in the form of words and conversation. Have you ever had a new concept enter your mind and after you pondered it for a while you started talking about it to everyone around you?
That’s when the real fun begins!
That’s because our words, whether we realize it or not, are extremely powerful! I can’t emphasize that enough.
Our words have creative ability and have the power to shape our world. In other words, we’ll have what we say.
Sadly, most of the time we don’t even pay attention to our thoughts or the things we say. Words today are so loose and unintentional. But in reality, our words are everything.
And the combination of our thoughts and words together and the building blocks to all behavior and habits. If we learn to understand this, we have the ability to have mastery over bad habits and choices and cultivate good ones. We can teach these same principles to our kids and help them also develop a lifestyle of good, healthy behaviors.
The Process of Growing Postive Behavior
I come from a line of proud, hard-working farmers. People who give their hearts, hands, and lives to the cycle of seed, time, and harvest. Those who spend their lives cultivating crops with the sole purpose of seeing the seeds sown in the planting season grow to a harvest.
They love the life of farming. They plant the seeds that bring life to those who eat from the harvest. The purpose of sowing is to reap the harvest!
If an invasion of insatiable insects or a season of unrelenting drought were to fall on the land it could lead to a devastating crop failure. A farmer’s worst nightmare. The worst possible scenario.
All that work down the drain. Dead.
When we think of farming, a crop failure is a really bad thing. After all, farmers spend the entire planting season sowing a particular type of seed in anticipation of a specific harvest.
But what if the farmer realized that he was sowing the wrong seed? What if instead of the seeds he thought he was sowing, he was actually planting seeds from weeds that would choke out the rest of his crops?
What should he do then? There’s no easy answer to that question.
One thing I’m sure of… hard, intentional work is required.
We are Farmers of Our Own Choices
I’m no farmer. I wasn’t raised in the farming life. We moved around a lot as a military family whose parents left the farm life they knew to serve our country.
We were raised as city kids. I actually have a really brown thumb. My daughter once brought home from 1st grade a precious little lima bean surrounded by a beautifully decorated pot for Mother’s Day. She was so proud of it. I made a vow to keep this one – ALIVE. But no matter how hard I tried. It eventually died.
So, I am truly not a farmer of real seeds and plants. But I am a farmer.
We all are. We are farmers of our own behaviors.
And these habits and behaviors all spring up from the seeds of our thoughts, words, and actions.
And the harvest we end up with depends on the type of seeds we sow. In order to live the life we really want, we must first plant the seeds of the right thoughts, words, and actions. And then watch them grow.
Seeds of selflessness instead of selfishness.
Seeds of encouragement instead of doubt.
Seeds of strength instead of weakness.
Seeds of respect instead of contempt.
Seeds of love instead of hate.
We’ve gotta be more like that farmer who chooses the right seed to get the harvest he needs. Sure, my example is pretty far-fetched. That a farmer would accidentally sow seeds from weeds into his fields. I mean, who keeps weed seeds anyway?!
But in our every day lives, it can be an all too frequent habit.
We all have good intentions of thinking the right thoughts, saying the right words, and doing the right things. But before we realize it, we’ve already dropped some bad seed in our fields. And too often, that seed has time to remain, fall into the soil, and gets watered. Then we look up one day and wonder why we have weeds in our fields… choking the life out of our precious harvest.
So what does that mean in our busy, everyday lives?
It means the decisions we make every day get planted deep in the soil of our lives and families. Seeds that will eventually grow into a harvest for us to reap. Remember the statement – you will reap what you sow? Meaning you’ll get back in your life what you put out to others.
This is a biblical truth – a law that God set in motion. I don’t know about you, but I don’t always want to receive back what I put out! Read several scriptures on sowing and reaping here.
How to Stop the Cycle of Bad Behavior
Honestly, I strive to live my life by the instructions that I teach my children, which is to treat others the way we’d like to be treated. But the truth is – I don’t always live by that. I sometimes, better yet, many times put myself – my needs, my wants, and my desires before others.
As a result, my selfish acts create more selfishness in my life. More directly, it creates more selfishness right in my home.
There was a particular season years ago, where I wanted my husband to see me in a new and better light. I felt like he didn’t see me the way I wanted him to see me. I constantly felt the need to defend myself and my actions. But in reality, my actions, or rather my seeds, were talking louder than my words.
We don’t need to use our words to tell others how we are. Our day to day actions are already doing that.
But I wanted to say, “I’m not selfish!” “I care about all of you more than myself!” But the truth was, my actions were saying something different. I was reaping and eating the harvest that grew from the seeds I’d been sowing. I was sowing “all about me” seed and eventually, my husband started to see me by the harvest that was coming up all around me.
Ouch! Can you relate?
The sad part about it was I couldn’t stand the thought of anyone seeing me in that light. I’m thankful that he always fought to see and believe the very best in me; which probably gave me the strength to change. But it was hard, I’m sure, to see past all the weeds shooting up around me.
And I wanted to be seen as the selfless, caring woman that I desperately wanted to be. But I wasn’t… not yet. Because I was sowing the wrong seed. All of a sudden I realized – I needed to stop watering those weeds! I needed that harvest to be destroyed and plucked up to make room for me to plant some new seed.
I decided to make a change and in that moment, I went from a guest at my own pity party to a farmer sowing seeds of love into my own life.
The truth is, the fastest and best way to stop an unwanted harvest is to stop sowing and feeding the bad seed and immediately start sowing good seed. It’s as simple as that!
Plant with the Desired End in Mind
Farming always starts with the end in mind. If an apple farmer wants to plant more apple trees, he is wise to plant apple seeds. He will be careful not to sow orange seeds, or else he’ll end up with an unwanted harvest.
We need to decide what kind of life we want to live. What kind of marriage we want to be in. What kind of children we want to raise. And then start planting the seeds that will produce the harvest we want instead of the ones we don’t want.
Unfortunately, there will be a temptation to stay in your current state of dissatisfaction. The danger is, if the bad harvest isn’t destroyed and new seeds planted – the harvest gets bigger, stronger, and deeper.
This is where we get into big trouble in our marriages, friendships, and relationships with our children. Given sufficient time and nurturing; the hurt and disappointment will grow strong limbs and deep roots. A huge, old oak tree is much harder to remove than a small sapling.
If you’re experiencing a harvest that you aren’t satisfied with; ask yourself if you too are sowing the wrong seed.
Change always starts with the person who desires the change. If you want something in your family to change; you have to be brave enough to start the change within yourself first.
Make a decision to do a self-evaluation on the harvests in your life. If there’s anything that you don’t like in your life; consider you may need to plant some new seed. To help you get started, use this simple 3 step process!
3 Simple Steps to Change
To keep this process super simple and make it easy to teach our children, I’m using an acronym – S.O.W.
The first step is the S:
Start with the End in Mind. If you decide upfront what type of life, relationship, or home life you desire than start sowing that kind of seed.
If you want more patient children, start sowing patience with them.
If you want a more intimate relationship with your husband, start sowing intimate seed. Start flirting in subtle ways.
See where I’m going with this?
The next step is the O:
Open yourself up to new experiences. Change is hard but in order to reap a new harvest, it’s necessary. As you begin thinking new and better thoughts and doing new and better things you must stick with it!
The final step is the W:
Wait for the harvest. Seeds require time to grow. It’s not an overnight process. The step in between seed and harvest is – TIME. Even if you stop planting bad seed and start planting new seed; the people around you aren’t necessarily going to see the evidence immediately.
So put on courage and be prepared to push on to change even if others still see you the same way you were. Trust me, if you stick with your decision to do the right thing and don’t give up – you WILL reap the harvest. And harvests are ALWAYS visible to others. So keep at it, and they will see and your life will be better because you didn’t give up.
Share with us, what new seed are you committing to planting in your life? Share in the comments below!