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. Our children’s behavior and our behavior.
That is the Principle of Sowing and Reaping. If we don’t understand how this principle works, we’ll unknowingly allow the cycle of negative behaviors to go unchecked in our lives and families.
So how do we use this principle to put a stop to selfishness, bickering, and other harmful behaviors?
We first need to understand the cycle and pattern of all behavior.
All behavior and decisions start with a seed. The seed of a thought. If that thought-seed (whatever it is) is allowed to lounge around and chill – 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 our mouths 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. The Bible says, “life and death is in the power of the tongue.”
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.
We Must Plant the Right Seeds First
The culture of our homelife largely depends on the type of seeds we sow as parents. We are setting the tone for our family every day. In order to experience the family 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 presence instead of busyness
Seeds of compassion instead of condemnation
Seeds of respect instead of contempt.
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?
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 do 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 many 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
Planting always starts with the end in mind. If an apple farmer wants to plant more apple trees, he’s smart to plant apple seeds. Duh! He’s not going to be throwing around orange seeds!
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.
Basically, it all starts with us as parents. We set the ultimate example and show our kids what is acceptable. “Do as I say and not as I do” is a really bad parenting philosophy on so many levels.
When parents do things that they tell their kids is bad, it sends a very confusing message that rules don’t apply to everyone. That we can simply pick and choose which rules we want to obey and which ones we don’t.
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!