We stood staring at the screen. It couldn’t be so. 1000 hits in one hour. How could that be? Someone, somewhere in the world was clicking on our movie every 3.6 seconds. We could hardly believe our luck. You hear that people can go viral and you assume it’s possible to happen but it seems more a dream than a reality, even as it is occuring.
Going viral has taught me a few things in regards to the law of the harvest. Some are old news but some of the insights have been new to me and I hope prove valuable to you.
1. You cannot reap if you never sow.
This is so incredibly obvious, but so often it is the problem. You want to be a New York times bestseller, but you haven't written a book. You want to be a YouTube sensation but you haven’t posted a video.
In Proverbs there is a great scripture, Prov 26:13 The slothful man saith, there is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets.
There is always a reason, a lion, for not moving forward. Time, effort, it wouldn’t pan out anyway. I would do all that work only to see my book/movie flop, etc… But step one is getting up and going in the street.
2. The harvest can be surprising, both in type, quantity and timing.
This one has been a surprise for me. We are taught in scriptures and elsewhere you, “reap what you sow.” And while it is true one cannot sow anger, resentment, violence, addiction and hope to reap charity, benevolence, peacefulness, and self control. However, the harvest is often far more diverse than we realize. For example, when you plant YouTube videos, you do so in the hope of reaping views, likes and subscriptions, but we have found that in there we have also seen more discipline, hard work, love in our children, and overall unity. Has our home turned into a sparking clean bundle of sunshine? No, but having goals and moving toward them has given us far more than the things YouTube offers.
This is important to realize in any venture you take. Never start a journey saying, if I don’t get X for this it will be a failure. Because you very likely will fail, and it won’t necessarily be a failure. A few examples. If a kid only plays basketball to get in the NBA they are wasting their time. They should enjoy the game, get physically fit, use their fame and name in high school and college for good, and then if on draft day they get called up great. There is nothing wrong with the goal to make it to the NBA, but if you judge your success or failure on that one endpoint you are missing most of the benefits the journey provides. I have noticed this in my writing journey. Do I want to be a New York Times bestseller? Of course, I do. But in the meantime I am loving writing. I get joy out of hearing every time someone enjoys an article or one of my books. I am learning a tremendous amount and pushing myself in new and exciting ways that is making me better at everything I do, even if I never sell a single book. So, don’t get over caught up in a single outcome.
Quantity- You always reap more than you sow
That is why we do things. Would a farmer plant a seed if all he got in return was another seed? No, you put seed, water and work into the soil in the hopes of getting more in return than you started with. And you do. As stated above, it’s not always the crop you expected but good effort yields benefits in greater supply than the effort put in. And much of the credit goes to others on this one. First and foremost the Lord. The Lord always blesses us above the efforts we invest when we do things that he commands. (Mosiah 2:24)
In addition to the Lord's blessings, no man is an island. We all benefit from those around us, and they all play a huge part in our successes. What good is YouTube videos without an audience? How much technology goes into getting a video created and put out for the world to watch? How much of that technology can I take credit for? (Zero, in my case). To ever feel that you deserve a certain outcome is ludicrous. We all get far more than we deserve, but that is one of the reasons God asks us to make honest efforts, because he wants to bless us above what we deserve. That is part of what makes him such a great Father.
Timing- The harvest is rarely in planting season
This is the hardest lesson for any of us to really accept. We all know this instinctively with actual crops, it takes a good portion of the year to grow tomatoes, and it will take several years from the time you put that orange pip in the ground until you are enjoying your first sweet bite of pulp and juice. Yet we all want instant benefits. In our YouTube case Jeanine has been cultivating many skills, including video making for years without getting a single YouTube like. They are hilarious little sketches she did mostly for ourselves and family. One she posted on YouTube six years ago and before last week it had about 100 views, and since I have watched it 99 times you can deduce that it didn’t get much outside traffic. She spent hours on hours learning video and sound editing, determining where to film etc… The first real big production, so to speak, her song, Did I Sing with the Angels. Did okay, a few thousand views, but never really took off. Simply speaking, the harvest, so to speak did not come instantaneously, it never does.
3. We are poor judges of others efforts and harvest
“He did what and got how many views? A kid makes millions opening toys and talking about it? I could do that.” We have all said this or something similar. We often judge some of the rich and famous thinking they put in little and got out much. As I said earlier, it is true that they harvest likely exceeds their effort, it does for all of us. But it may be more balanced than you realize. Just like in Jeanine’s case who spent hours and hours learning skills that others will never witness or see, many of these “overnight” successes did their fair share of work and effort behind the scenes. We should always seek to learn from others, but when we move into the realm of judging that they don’t deserve their harvest or that they have “all the luck” we shouldn’t be so hasty.
4. Most harvests are perishable
As big as this video got, I have bad news for my kids. They aren’t going to be able to live their lives in fame and luxury from it. If they don’t make entertaining content they will fade into history much faster than it took them to make the video. Part of the human condition is the need for constant work. No matter how good a harvest we have one year we need to plant the next year if we want to eat. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground. (Gen. 3:19)
We can’t work out once, or for a week, or for a year and expect to be healthy forever. We can’t study hard for 12-16 years of our life, stop and expect not to lose most of what we learned. Constant effort and improvement is part of what we signed up for down here. (See my article about work)
5. Harvest are generally proportional to our effort on a macro, not a micro level.
While we reap more than we sow, the more we sow and work the greater our harvest will be, in general. What I mean by that is, we may have years we work hard and have a poor crop. Jeanine may make a video that takes a ton of effort and it flops. And she may make a video that takes much less effort and it does tremendously well. And while picking any micro level will lead us to say the harvest is out of balance with the effort, if you look at a larger scale you will see that it is more balanced than you think. Work hard throughout your life and you will reap more abundantly the harvest you seek, whatever it is.
6. I am not the Lord of the Harvest
While I can control my efforts, and while the harvest will generally be in proportion to my efforts, I am not the Lord of the Harvest. It is not in my hands. Ultimately God decides what we reap at any given time and for any given effort. This means we need to work on the part we can control, what we sow, and then rely in faith that God knows what harvest we need, how much of it and when to give it to us. Basically we need to have faith that he has our best interest at heart. It is my testimony that he does.