Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Sowing in Four Fields
"As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.
Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well."
What's going to happen in my life? My country? My world? Our economy? Our opportunities? What challenges will we face? What blessings will arrive without notice? Where is the very best place for me to invest (sow) my time, talent and treasure while things change?
The answer, according to Ecclesiastes, is that you can't know where the perfect place is for you to lay down seed. Furthermore, if you wait until you get that information, you'll never do anything. "You do not know the path of the wind" (even if you have sophisticated weather forecasting computer models and hi-tech equipment: "you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things."
But don't be discouraged. The Spirit-inspired writer gives us a sure-fire strategy -- do your "morning and evening" sowing. Sow diligently in several fields. Do it in the morning, and do it in the evening. You can't know which will prosper and which won't at what rates. But one thing you can bet on is that if you sow nowhere, you can expect no harvest at all.
In light of this, I recommend a "four box" approach to seed sowing.
BOX ONE: Low Risk / Low Reward -- this is easy sowing, automatic stuff like working a job or taking basic care of your health, etc. The rewards may not be dramatic, but the outlay is minimal.
BOX TWO: Low Risk / Higher Reward -- this is a little more of a reach. It involves sowing in things that are partially developed, that you have already done some work of preparation for but these things need a little more attention than you've been giving them in order to go to the next level.
BOX THREE: Higher Risk / Higher Reward -- this is edgier stuff in your life -- out of the ordinary but not out of the question. New education. New networking. New investment. Might or might not payoff very big, but it's the cutting edge all the same.
BOX FOUR: High Risk / High Reward -- this is the "God-sized" sowing -- sowing into things that can only happen with God's favor and blessing. It's sowing to your dreams and visions. Sowing to the life you could only live if God Himself makes it possible. Writing the Great American Novel. Becoming a professional athlete. Traveling the world for Christ. Marrying the perfect man (sorry, but I'm taken already) -- whatever it looks like for you.
Now, there are two things to keep in mind:
* COUNT ON THE FACT that some of your seed will never germinate or grow very much. COUNT ON IT (so it doesn't stop you) "you do not know which will prosper", Solomon says.
* SOW IN WISE PROPORTIONS. Don't put 100% of your seed in the HR/HR box. Sow smaller amounts of seed there. Sow more in LR/LR, but don't sow it all there because you'll only maintain and not grow anything new (at best). You get the idea.
In my current life transition, I have thought this through as follows:
LR/LR = 40%
LR/HrR = 50%
HrR/HrR = 5%
HR/HR = 5%
I plan to readjust these balances as things develop, but this is my starting place. I have specific applications in all four boxes regarding my life. The more specific you can be in describing those boxes and what "sowing" involves into each, the better.
The bottom line is that if we sow to all four, knowing that we are not in control of growth (God is), then we are doing the best we can to honor Him and our own contribution to the future as well.