If You Build it, You Will Lose

In the 1989 film, “Field of Dreams”, Kevin Costner plays the character of a farmer, growing corn. One day, as he’s working in the field, he hears a voice saying, “if you build it, they will come”.

As the film continues, the voice repeats itself, and some seemingly supernatural things start happening to confirm what he said. The gist of it is this: he is being told to build a baseball field.

So he chooses to plow under all his corn, throw away his crop, and turn his farm into that baseball field. And ghosts start showing up to play baseball, as people gather to come and see them.

It’s pretty, it’s cathartic, but what’s the point?

Since then, we’ve used that voice in our culture, over and over, telling ourselves to just go and build something. It doesn’t matter if that thing is worth our time and effort, because we’ve already convinced ourselves that it is.

So while some might be thinking about that beautiful baseball diamond in the nighttime Iowa landscape, I’m thinking about a farmer who plowed under his corn. Why throw away what you’ve worked so hard on just for a dream?

And this is the blueprint for popular human behavior in the post-“Field of Dreams” world:

  • You hear voices (you convince yourself of something)
  • You see things and frame them to fit those voices (your conviction)
  • You abandon your work and jump to something new

But are all voices trustworthy? Ask Sam Berkowitz, he heard a dog tell him to kill people – and he listened to that voice.

I heard voices

Life is hard, it’s hard to stick with the thing we’re doing. We want relief, we want to see change – results – fast. We want instant gratification.
I’ve worked at things before, I tried to run my “farm”. And many times, I heard voices (I convinced myself of something) and I “plowed under my corn” – but “they did not come”.

  • When I was in the military, I convinced myself that I would not enter a combat zone. Even when I was approached by the commander of a prestigious, new unit trying to recruit me (this is unheard of), I declined. Years later I ended up fighting in the Second Lebanon War. So much for not entering combat zones.
  • When I made my first home-recorded album in 1999, I convinced myself that nobody would want to support my music. So even when the record label I most wanted to accept my album said yes, I virtually ignored them. That album never got a proper release.
  • In 2006, I convinced myself that I could run a record label and distribution alone (and make more money that way). So when I was approached by one of the largest music distribution companies in my country and offered a position to work for them – I declined. A year later, I shut my distribution down because it wasn’t making enough money and I couldn’t handle the workload.

We need to listen to one voice

We always hear voices. Either they come from others, they come from our culture, they come from our environment, they come from ourselves – or they come supernaturally.

In order for us to have clarity, though, we need to listen to one voice, according to which we measure all the other voices we hear. That’s the only way for their to be truth in our lives.

Is it really time to plow under our corn? To burn our bridges? To build it so that “they” will come? Maybe. I once “plowed under my corn”, and it was the right thing to do.

There’s a right time to “build it and they will come”, and there’s a wrong time. The problem is that our culture sees “build it and they will come” as a value in and of itself, regardless of the voice that’s saying the words “build it and they will come”.

It’s all about the voice. Find the voice, and be attentive to it – as much and as often as possible.

My sheep hear My voice… – John 10:27 NKJV

Was there ever a time where you built it, but they didn’t come? Or they did come? Let me know in the comments below!