Today, this law is often oversimplified and has become interchangeable with cliches like “you eat what you kill.”
The law of reaping and sowing is the most powerful natural law. While all other principles add and subtract, when applied correctly, it multiplies. But what does this law mean? And how does someone benefits from what it has to offer?
Let’s start with what it’s not. Today, the law of reaping and sowing is often oversimplified and has become interchangeable with cliches like "you eat what you kill.” No surprise, given that only 1.3% of Americans work as farmers, and it being 12,000+ years since the hunter-gatherer lifestyle dominated the earth.
Although most Americans don't grow corn or hunt water buffalo, we show up in our careers, relationships, and businesses as hunters or farmers. In sales, for example, these two personas represent opposing strategies for acquiring new customers.
To gain clarity on the law of sowing and reaping, I looked at the farming process to unpack what it means to effectively sow and reap in real life.
Stages of Farming
Step 1: Preparing the land
Healthy soil is the first step to a successful harvest. Here the farmer does everything from test soil nutrients to remove weeds.
Comment: How to prepare?
Whether it be in sports, business, or public speaking, our idols have a way of making what they do look easy. Hoping to imitate, we practice their moves, seldom studying how they prepare.
If a running back studied Herschel Walker hoping to replicate his spin move, most would start by practicing it, not realizing that his effortless spin came from years of taking ballet.
Preparation at times is an illusion. The desire for instant gratification may cause us to engulf in the most enticing part of a person's preparation. And social media being a highlight reel of the people we admire doesn't help. If you look at the best wide receivers' Instagram during the off-season, you may assume that they prepare by running routes, but it's what they spend the least amount of time doing. It’s the final step in their preparation process.
Step 2: Choose the seed:
Market demand, climate, and land quality all play a role in the seed a farmer selects.
Comment: Flamin' Hot Cheetos
In 1976, Richard Montanez started working as a janitor for Frito Lay. Coming to work with the mindset of "when you mop that floor, make sure that it shines and that when people see it, they know that a Montanez mopped it!"
That year the company executives challenged all employees to come up with a new product. Believing that "there is no such thing as just a janitor." He took the initiative and created Flamin' Hot Cheetos.
When you hear stories like this, you wonder what the seed was? Is it his hard work? Being a good person? Or luck? What I've come to realize is hard work is not a seed. Richard's hard-working spirit gave him the discipline to see his idea through to completion.
Hard work is not a seed.
A good farmer works hard, but the best farmer plants the right seed. Being the best janitor wasn't the seed that led him to become an executive at Pepsico. The seed was the decision to come up with a flavor.
His time as a janitor helped him develop a hard-working spirit, a spirit of doing things exceptionally well, which he brought to creating a chip flavor. So while being a hard worker will help you start what you finish, the seed you choose to plant will determine what is waiting for you at the finish line.
Step 3: Sow the seed.
An intentional process, farmers, spread seeds evenly so they don't compete for nutrients.
Comment: Casually sowing?
Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 2 Corinthians 9:6
Farmers work consistently and tirelessly most of the year. A farmer doesn’t plant seeds, walk away, and return to a harvest a few months later. The law of reaping and sowing isn’t passive. Only what we water grows.
Many of us are waiting around ideally for good things to happen to us in our career and our relationship because we helped an elderly person cross the street one day or loaned a friend some money.
The farmer is intentional. Don’t think you can casually sow seeds and reap a harvest.
Step 4: Irrigation
Watering at the right time and the correct amount is essential to growth. To not rely solely on rainfall, farmers build irrigation systems to water crops.
Step 5: Crop Protection
Pestilences — insects, animals, or diseases can reduce total yield; farmers must engage in daily activities to protect their crops.
Comment: Things can go wrong
A farmer can plow the land, choose the right seed, sow the seed, but if he doesn’t water it correctly, he won’t reap what he sowed. And worst of all, there are things beyond the farmer’s control, like the crop getting infected with plant disease.
We assume things will automatically work out if we do everything right and are a good person.
“I never cheated!”
After being projected as a 1st round draft pick, Inky Johnson suffered a career-ending injury that left him paralyzed in his right arm. In his speech, he shared that what made it difficult to accept his fate was that he’d been working tirelessly to go to the NFL since he was seven years old.
In an instant, everything Inky had worked for faded away. It’s important to accept that nothing in life is guaranteed. And bad things happen to good people.
Step 6: Harvesting
Gathering, sorting, and storing the crop surprisingly demands more effort than sowing.
Comment: Hunter in farmer clothes
When desperation hits, the hunter’s survivalist nature eventually kicks in.
While it may take a good hunter a day to kill a water buffalo, even the most exceptional farmer can’t plant a seed and reap a harvest in a week.
Time to the farmer and the hunter is different. While the farmer embraces time as it rewards him for his patience, to the hunter, time is the difference between life and death. A hunter’s survival depends on a timely hunt, while some farmers willingly wait years for a seed to mature.
On several occasions, I’ve found myself being a hunter disguised as a farmer, but time reveals all. The desire for immediate results can only be suppressed for so long. When desperation hits, the hunter’s survivalist nature eventually kicks in. Don’t fool yourself. You can’t trick your way into a harvest.
Step 7: Sell
Getting paid and at their desired rate is not a simple process. It requires relationships with food distributors, local grocery stores, and/or the local community.
While farming provides the best ROI, not every opportunity or relationship are we supposed to see it through a farmer’s lens. What’s important is to know the difference and decide in each instance who you want to be. A farmer or a hunter?