The Law of Reciprocity (Pt. iii) – Forrest Gump Style

April 24, 2009

For those of you living under a rock, “Forrest Gump” is a movie starring Tom Hanks as a simple guy who has a low IQ but leads a remarkable life.  All his life he’s been told that when he’s confused or scared or hurt, he should run.  Running got him into college football.  It got him a Purple Heart in Vietnam.  And in a scene towards the latter part of the movie, it gets him one of his many harvests.

Forrest Gump’s running scene is the law of reciprocity in action, and he doesn’t even know it.

He has just had someone extremely close to him hurt him bad.  She’s left him, and he’s standing on his front porch in Alabama, staring down his driveway.  He steps off his porch and says “so I decided to go for a run.”  He runs down to the end of his driveway.  Then down the street.  Then across town.  Then across the county, then the state, then to the Atlantic ocean, and then to the Pacific.  He starts running back and forth across the country, and in the process is unintentionally scattering the seed that is unique and individual to him.

He’s running for days and months all by himself, obscure and alone.  Although I think he would tell you that it was great and enjoyable, it represents the time of toiling and groundbreaking that must take place to sow a harvest of magnificent and exponential beauty.

So he’s running back and forth.  Eventually people begin to notice his seeds that are now springing from the ground.  Some begin to follow him.  People keep trying to ask him why he’s running, but he says very little.  So they decide that he’s running for charity, or that he’s trying to attract attention for world peace.  They begin to develop all kinds of reasons – personal, political, spiritual – but he doesn’t say much and just keeps running.

Along the way, he becomes the inspiration that a few entrepreneurs needed to hit it big.  And more and more people join him.  Finally after more than three years, he stops running, tells everyone he’s pretty tired, and goes home, leaving several dozen people wondering what they were supposed to do from there.

So Forrest Gump began this trek out of the passion and uniqueness that had simply become a major part of him.  He already had his seed.  As he ran back and forth, in effect tilling the ground, he scattered that seed, and all kinds of things began to spring up.  It was completely organic and simply overflowed from a place within himself that struck a chord with many other people.  He had the right seed in the right soil at the right time.

And if he wanted to, at that point he could have done any number of things.  He could have written a book or started a foundation or branded himself and become a spokesman for a cause or agenda, like some of the people thought.  The fields were bursting with the sweet aroma of harvest.

And this brings us to the last part of this law – the receiving.  Oddly enough, this is where many people miss it.  When the harvest is ripe – and there is a perfect time – it needs to be gathered.  But even if we’ve sown the right seed and tilled the ground and kept the fields parasite and weed free, our attitude at this point can render all this activity moot.

There are two ways we can sow, give, receive and harvest.
The first is from a position of fear and lack.
The second is from a position of faith and abundance.

The first position, like I touched on with Scrooge McDuck, sows with an attitude of simply taking and hoarding.  This attitude says that there is only a very limited amount, and whatever I get, I’m going to hold tight to it because I may never get any more.  I’m going to store and store.  There may be some giving in the process, but it’s a self-serving kind of giving – giving simply as a means to an end to get back.

When a person sows and reaps with the fear and lack mentality, they actually end up missing many, many opportunities for a greater and richer harvest because they are so focused on their own end results and self-preservation.  The person operating in fear and lack has a steady flow of people walking up to their door, but they are sent away, because that person fears they will take their harvest when it’s full.  They fear that if they share their crop, there won’t be enough to go around.

In contrast, the person operating in faith and abundance gives away as much as is reasonable, because they know that as long as they have a good harvest, some of those people will tell their friends, and they will tell their friends, and it will become something that is exponential and effortless.  It will have no choice but to multiply.

There’s a story in the Bible that illustrates this perfectly.  Jesus tells a story about three servants who are entrusted with different amounts of money (called talents) by their master.  One is given five talents, one is given two, and the third is given one, “each according to his own ability.” The master leaves.  The first servant takes his five talents and makes five more.  The second takes his two and makes two more.  The third servant takes his and buries it in the ground.

When the master returns, he asks for an account of what the servants have done with what he’s entrusted them with.  He’s pleased with the first and second servant, but angry with the third.  He takes the talent from the third and gives it to the servant who ended up with ten.  Then he banishes the servant from his service, calling him wicked and lazy.  He says, “To everyone who has, more will be given…but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.”

I read a really good commentary on what Jesus means by this story, and how it is part of the law of reciprocity.

**If you use what is given to you, you will gain more.  If you fail to use what is given to you, you will lose even what you think you have.  Whether in physical, intellectual, financial, or relational dealings, whatever is given to you, however small it is, use it.  Use it diligently and on an ever increasing scale.  Set goals to increase whatever you do. “**

The difference between operating out of fear and lack as opposed to faith and abundance is a little like having the choice between the luxury car or the beater.

When we’re sowing out of a giver’s mentality, we are entitled to the luxury car.  Yet because we often are seeing through the eyes of lack and poverty, when it comes time to harvest, we choose the beater, even if we are giving.

Conversely, when we operate from a standpoint of a getter, we can only have that beater, but we go ahead and claim the luxury car.  Then we get angry when we get neither.

So the Law of Reciprocity looks like this:

  1. Operate out of an attitude of faith and abundance, not fear and lack.
  2. Have seed of great substance; seed that is unique only to you; that is packed with core and fundamental value and content.  Every chance you get to give this seed away, do it.
  3. Know the seasons, the soil, and the prime location
  4. Toil and work the land, overcoming and persevering at all costs
  5. Be patient and faithful to the vision and the harvest.
  6. At the proper time, reap and receive.  And then give it away again.

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To see more writing like this, check out my book, The Human Code

** Spirit Filled Life Bible, p. 2008


The Law of Reciprocity Pt. ii

April 24, 2009

There is something amazing about this law that will make your fields explode with harvest. When you give and focus on the giving rather than the receiving, the sowing rather than the reaping, the harvest inevitably bursts into something greater and more uncontainable than you could ever have planned.

Instead of planting with visions of cramming it all into your storehouse and guarding it with your lives, plant with a desire to keep what you can use and give the rest away.

There used to be a Disney cartoon called “Duck Tales” that was on when I was growing up. It was about a family of ducks, somehow related to Donald Duck, and there was one particular duck called Scrooge McDuck. He’s a rich miser, wealthy beyond all reason, and he has a vault that contains all his treasures that he occasionally dives into and swims around in. He used to get a mouthful of coins and spit them out like they were water. It seemed like so much fun!

Now that I’m grown up, I realize that it would hurt really bad to dive into a pile of gold and crowns and bullion (that’s a great word), and those coins would taste really bad.

I mention that, because I think most of us have some sort of similar picture in our heads. If we won the lottery, we’d fill our living rooms with hundred dollar bills and roll around in them. If we found buried pirate treasure, we’d stumble around with giant jewel encrusted crowns on our heads drinking from some golden goblet.

And I think in many cases, that’s how we approach our giving. That’s how we sow. We’re looking past the good and right reasons for sowing because all we want to see is how much harvest we’re going to be able to cram into our barns and storehouses. We fail to see the joy the harvest will bring to a needy family. We miss the fact that our grain could have been the very grain that was supposed to be used to plant bigger and more fruitful fields. And so our grain goes into the storehouses where it simply rots.

We have all been given the seeds of brilliance to sow in the rich soil of today. Our seed is our own and will never be duplicated. And it must be sown. I am convinced that each person is a Da Vinci or a Beethoven, and that person is screaming to get out of us.

Imagine if Beethoven, knowing that he had all this good musical seed, decided to become a real estate agent instead. Or what if Shakespeare put down his pen and took a middle management position as an associate assistant to the vice president of senior consulting and marketing in the communications and linguistics department of that new high-tech company down in the business park?

We’d be robbed. They had powerful seeds, and they sowed them.

So many people lead lives of frustration and barrenness because they are trying to sow someone else’s seed. Or they aren’t sowing at all. The Law of Reciprocity is always at work, and the sooner we begin to recognize the seed we have been given, the location in which we’ve been placed, and the cycle of nature that we’re in, the sooner we’ll begin to see the harvest and returning.

Type in the words “home based business” into a search engine, and you’ll see thousands and thousands of pages come up, each one promising to make you the next internet millionaire. You’ll see the same sales letter telling you how they went from broke to a millionaire in three months.

They will be sitting in an expensive car in the driveway of a mansion with their arms outstretched and a giant smile on their faces They will show you their “secret autopilot” system that claims you don’t have to do anything to make five figures a day. They will tell you that you can work a few hours a week in your underwear and make CEO level pay.

And lots and lots of people believe this. For some of these people, this is a reality. They have put in the time and effort and have achieved that level of success and prosperity, have developed a system that works for them, sown their own seeds, and are reaping fantastic harvests.

I really respect those people. I’ve met many of them, and they are genuinely good people who have worked really hard. They like to make money, but they really are excited about helping other people break out of the confines of the traditional job and live a life that is about freedom and prosperity.

The hard part to watch is that millions of people buy a dream rather than a business. They see the harvest that other people are reaping and are convinced that they can reap that same exact harvest. And some people do because they have been given similar seeds.

Yet the statistics say that about 97% of the people who start a home-based business fold within 3-5 years. Why is that? Are they not good enough? Are they lazy?

Some, yes. But a good portion of these people have just begun to plant and toil in the wrong field with the wrong seed at the wrong time. Or they are in the right field with the right seed at the wrong time. Or they…you get the picture.

So the Law of Reciprocity begins with sowing and giving. And not just randomly, but with purpose, passion, authenticity, and seed that is as unique and individual as the one who is sowing.

Then what? We’ve got the process started. We’ve engaged the law. We’re authentic and passionate about something. We’ve got the seed.

Then comes the toiling.

This is the hardest part, the part where most people give up. They may have their seed, their field, and their vision of the harvest dancing in the back of their mind, but when they get out into the rain and the cold and the heat to begin breaking up the ground, they quit. They faint.

I’ve done this a million times.

Buried within this Law of Reciprocity is a principle that we just can’t get away from: you have to reach high for the best things in life.

It is in the toiling process that something gets solidified inside of us. It’s on these proving grounds, when we are digging and our back aches and we have heat exhaustion that we come to the place where we ask ourselves if it’s really worth it. And sadly, most of us decide that it’s not. So we quit digging. We make excuses. We procrastinate, and the seed dries up. We miss the prime growing season and have to wait until next year.

There is a verse in the Bible that sounds really good, but actually is a very strict challenge. This verse is Matthew 7:7-8. It says “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be open to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

This passage was originally written in an ancient form of the Greek language. The way this was written is literally translated something very similar to this: “ask, and keep on asking; seek, and keep on seeking; knock, and keep on knocking.”

“The Greek present tense emphasizes continuous action: Jesus was not saying knock once and stop, but keep on knocking until the door is opened.

God, in His wonderful wisdom, has built the world in such a fashion that only those who are diligent and who persevere win the highest prizes. The person who is determined to achieve his God given goal, despite all obstacles, will wind up a winner. Those who are fainthearted and faltering, whose minds are not made up about something, will always lose.

God makes us reach high for the better things. Only a few will strive hard enough to win them. Those who keep going in spite of problems, pain, and difficulty will eventually overcome them…In whatever task God places you, do not quit, but stay the course.”**

The toiling process involves intense action, both physical and spiritual. This continual process of asking, seeking, and knocking activates something in the soil we are tilling. It injects supernatural vitamins into the ground, nutrients that in some mysterious way strengthen the roots and forever unite us to this harvest. Our very life and identity go into it, and as we grow and persevere, so does the harvest.

It is in the time of toiling and breaking up the ground that the kind of harvest we will reap will really be decided.

The toiling becomes a reflection of our self.
If we are lazy, we only break up a small piece of the ground.
If we are determined, the ground will be deep and wide and fresh.
If we are in doubt, we’ll give up.
If we really want it, we’ll keep going at all costs.

No matter if it is hot or cold, day or night, raining or shining.

This brings me to Forrest Gump…

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To see more writing like this, check out my book, The Human Code

**Spirit Filled Life Bible p. 2009