Plowers & Harvesters

I apologize for my absence over the last few weeks. Since my last post, between trying to finish peanut harvest and keeping up with the responsibilities at my “real job,” I have barely had time to turn around. Most days I do not know which end is up. Peanut harvest is now over…finally, and I have gotten to a point at my real job where I can catch my breath, at least for a few weeks. So, I am back—at least for now.

As most of you probably already know, church is a big deal in the South. A quote from now President-Elect Joe Biden comes to my mind when trying to describe just how big, but it is not clean enough to put on here, this being a “family friendly” page and all. Since church is a big deal in the South, by logical extension, so are church signs. Before we go any further let me clarify one point so we’re all on the same page. I’m not talking about the simple signs that say “First Baptist Church” etc. When I say “church signs,” I’m referring to the ones that you can post an actual message on. We’ve all seen them.

Now I must be honest on this particular point, these signs annoy me. This is because they usually state some type of corny/stupid message. Let me give you an example: “come to church—it’ll scare the hell out of you.” Perhaps it is conveyed with sincerity, but when this happens, about the only thing that is accomplished is making that particular church, or the church as a whole, the butt of numerous jokes and a loss of credibility. It distracts and detracts from the church’s actual mission and honestly, that’s the last thing we need right now.

But, just like a blind squirrel finds a nut all along and a stopped clock is right twice a day, recently while headed to Dothan I stumbled upon a church sign that actually had a good message. It caused me to slow down and do a double take. The sign read: “Everyone wants to harvest, but no one wants to plow.” That hit me. It hit me hard. Such an incredibly short and simple yet profound truth. A rare find in today’s world where truth unfortunately seems to be ever elusive.

I have often seen and heard success spoken of as an iceberg. A simple Google search will pull up the illustrations I’m referring to. Essentially, people only see the tip or the end result. All the hard work, late nights, stress, and struggle are under the surface. There’s a lot of truth there, more truth than most folks care to handle.

When I was in FFA, I was chapter vice president my senior year. I’m sure some of you reading this served in the same position. If so, you probably know where I’m going with this. I was stationed next to the plow, which symbolized labor and tillage of the soil. The rationale was that “without labor, neither knowledge nor wisdom can accomplish much.” That has always stuck with me.

In case you haven’t noticed, we live in a society that has an overabundance of people that do not work. They flat out refuse to. As my dad says “sorryness is just fallin’ off of ‘em.” That fact is beyond frustrating, especially for employers looking for good employees and for the good employees that have to shoulder their own weight plus that of their fellow employees. I’m 33 and I’ll be the first to say that my generation, and those younger than me, fill up their fair share of this portion of the populace; however, it is spread across all age spectrums, young and old. I personally don’t get it. I’d go crazy from boredom without something to keep me busy.

My parents taught me two lessons very early in life: 1) no one is going to give you anything, get out and work for it; and 2) the world is often tough and unforgiving. At the time, those lessons were hard and I did not like them. In hindsight, I am so very thankful for those lessons at an early age.

For those who try to live their lives by the good book, it tells us that a man who does not work should not eat. Personally, I can get on board with this principle. Perhaps if we went back to this philosophy we could solve two crises in one stroke: the obesity epidemic plaguing America and the overabundance of lazy people.

My grandfather is the hardest working person I know. I’ve heard stories about how hard he worked when he was younger while raising my dad and his siblings. I can’t imagine someone working that hard all the time and their body just not giving out on them, but somehow he did. I guess they don’t make men like that anymore. I know first-hand what I have witnessed him do in my lifetime. I suppose watching him, and my father, is where my work ethic comes from. “Monkey see, monkey do.”

I’m neither married nor do I have children. It is my hope to accomplish both of those goals one day. When that day comes, I have determined that I likely will not be the perfect parent. There’s no such thing. Nevertheless, I refuse to raise a child that is lazy and a child that is ungrateful. I also know that it will be up to me to set the tone and instill the value of hard work at an early age and to make sure that value takes root and bears fruit into adulthood. If you have children, your time is now. So do not waste the opportunity.

I know I bounced around a bit. I knew what I wanted to say, but struggled with how to convey it adequately. I have that problem sometimes. I hope that I got my point across clear enough that you understand. If not, I suppose it would boil down to this. In a world of people that are perfectly content to sit on the sideline and take credit for someone else’s work, don’t be someone who is just willing to reap the benefits of the harvest, also be there and ready to go when it’s time to plow. Make sure you raise your children to do the same. Until next time, farm on, farm hard, and keep it in the field rows.

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