There are inexorable laws in the universe. One of them is the principle of sowing and reaping. What you sow you will reap. Obviously this is a principle from agriculture and this is an observable principle. If you plant corn you will reap corn. The Bible applies this principle more broadly-even to our lives as people. Early on in the Old Testament there are applications to this principle of sowing and reaping-relating to agriculture and to character. One of the early exhortations is to not reap all that you sow agriculturally-leave some for those less fortunate-it is a principle of giving and generosity. This is poignantly illustrated in the book of Ruth.
The New Testament also makes some clear applications of the principle of sowing and reaping to our lives. One of the most notable applications comes from Galatians 6:6-10. Paul is making specific reference once again towards giving. But there are some notable principles that flow out of this teaching. First, You will reap what you sow-it is impossible to not reap what you sow. Paul even notes that this can be a point of deception in our lives. We can be deceived by the world into thinking that we can somehow reap something different than what we sow-that is categorically false. Second, we will usually reap more than we sow. We can see this again from the world of agriculture-if you sow a single kernel of wheat you will be able to reap much more. So it is in life-to sow a little anger or a little generosity will often reap an abundance of like kind. Third, sowing and reaping do not always happen in the same season. Here lies the point of deception or hope. We can be deceived when we sow to sinful habits and seemingly not reap the consequences because they are not always immediate. We can also become discouraged when we sow to righteous habits and seemingly not reap the benefits. But there is always a maturation process. Time is always a factor in sowing and reaping. If one plants a seed today one does not expect to see the end result tomorrow. But the end result is coming! In this passage Paul warns that if we sow our lives towards sinful desires we will reap corruption-but if we sow our lives towards spiritual desires (Christ Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit) we will reap eternal life. Paul also tells us that we must not grow weary in sowing good-because we will reap a good harvest in time.
Here are some musings on how this might play out towards leadership. I am always a little concerned when I see a young leader who experiences great success. Usually this success is driven by giftedness-but may not yet be supported by character. Sadly, it is not uncommon that rising stars end up destroying themselves and others along the way. The principle of sowing and reaping kicked in. Consider these three areas of leadership in relation to sowing and reaping: success, character, and being other centered. There are no shortcuts to character and character is the true foundation of all good leadership. Character is one of those things that necessarily takes time-the reaping season is extended-but it will come. And it will matter to you especially as you hit your 40’s and beyond. But you sow the seeds of character now. Success-especially early success-can be an imposter. There are no shortcuts to true success either. This often revolves around how we define success. We will sow towards our definition-and we will reap in kind. Finally, being other centered. Almost all young leaders are pretty self centered-me too. It is part of our broken nature. We are overly concerned with ourselves when we are young. But if this does not change over time-a leader can only become dictatorial. I believe that one of the true marks of good leadership is the multiplication of good leaders through that person. That takes an other centered approach. To get there you have to sow seeds of selflessness now-so that one day you might reap a leadership legacy that will out last you and have a greater impact than you.
“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that he will also reap” Galatians 6:7