Sow Well & Let Go of Outcomes – Bradley Jersak

“The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how.” (Mark 4:26-27)

Letting Go of Outcomes

Many of history’s greatest prophets and sages emphasized the importance of “sowing” well—i.e., offering our contribution to the world and to others—while letting go of outcomes. Their central point is that we should avoid becoming attached to a particular outcome because (1) we don’t control outcomes, (2) we shouldn’t manipulate outcomes, (3) but we can be assured of an outcome.

We Don’t Control Outcomes

First, when we sow some good thing into this world, we’re like those old fashioned planters who ‘broadcasts’ seeds—remember the farmer in the parable of the sower and the seeds (Matthew 13)? Even a very good sower (e.g., Jesus) with very good seed (e.g., the gospel) doesn’t control the outcome. Some seeds land on good soil, others on hard ground, others in the weeds, still others where the sun or the birds ruin the hoped-for harvest.

I’m not saying that we sow without hope, but when we attach ourselves to a specific outcome, every interuption to or diversion from our goal can become an occasion for frustration, resentment, defeat, blame, shame, striving, manipulation and much more. But if we are confident that we did our best to sow well and leave the outcome in God’s care, we can accept that the outcomes are out of our control and sleep more peacefully. As a nighttime worrywart, I pray the Serenity Prayer as a way to detach from outcomes:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.  

We Shouldn’t Manipulate Outcomes

Many aspects of sowing do affect outcomes: wisdom, experience, education, wise counsel, careful planning, quality control, etc. I don’t regard these as manipulation. Those are just a few examples of doing our best to sow well. Sowing well IS in my power, so I do my best.

But if I refuse to accept the fact that outcomes are not something I can control, I may be tempted to try manipulation to get my way. I may become controlling of others, cross boundaries, bend the rules, force the issue… such ‘force’ speaks of coercion, which is not love. It is creating a mold into which I squeeze my expectations. And somehow, that’s a violation.

And it’s not just that manipulation oversteps my role as a sower; it also limits amazing outcomes that I could not have foreseen, beyond my expectations, more beautiful than my imagining. Manipulating outcomes demonstrates small- and narrow-minded thinking and underestimates the loving care of the heavenly Father.

We Can Be Assured of Outcomes

If we can sow well and let go of outcome attachments, we can rest easy knowing that those who sow well will indeed reap a harvest. It might not be when or how we hope and prayed and worked for it, but in Galatians 6, we’re promised that if we sow well in the Spirit, we’ll reap a good harvest. Our sowing is not futile!

In our opening parable, Jesus assures us that we can scatter good seed, sleep well, and rise to see the good and surprising outcomes that God has in store when we leave the harvest to him.


Picture of Brad Jersak

Brad Jersak

Bradley Jersak is an author and teacher based in Abbotsford, BC. He serves as a reader and monastery preacher at All Saints of North America Orthodox Monastery. Read More