The second of Solomon’s three fools is the Sluggard. “Sluggard” is an old-fashioned word for lazy-bones or couch potato, and such people existed long before video games or social media. This person loves to have fun. The Sluggard is usually behind on something, but he runs out of time before he can get to it. This person is often incredibly busy. This person is a great friend to have, but not the best teammate or project partner. The Sluggard doesn’t know how to produce stuff, but he knows how to get it from others who produce it for him (be it the Church, the welfare office, or his parents).
I am this fool. If you’re honest, you probably are, too.
Go to the ant, O sluggard;
Consider her ways, and be wise.
Without having any chief,
Officer, or ruler,
She prepares her bread in summer
And gathers her food in harvest (Prov 6:6-8, ESV).
Solomon commands the Sluggard to pay attention to the world. By noticing a few things about insignificant ants, he might, in fact, become wise.
First, consider how ants are self-motivated (Prov 6:7). They don’t need a supervisor cracking a whip over them. They don’t need their moms to remind them to take out the trash. They don’t need deadlines or micro-management to get the job done. They don’t have drill sergeants shouting in their faces. They move forward, doing what they ought to do. They out-perform the competition and can be relied upon to carry out top priorities. If they struggle to understand how they fit into the big picture, they don’t blame others for failing to give them enough purpose. They go after it for themselves.
Second, consider how ants are seasonally productive (Prov 6:8). They know when to work and when to play. They know what work should be done today, and what work can be put off until tomorrow. They don’t wait for winter to hit before they begin stocking the shelves. They don’t stay up late on April 14th to finish filing their taxes. They’re aware of how much legwork goes into a task, and they plan far enough in advance to get it all done.
These two values—motivation and productivity—will convert any comatose dawdler into an influential laborer for God’s Kingdom.
In my college years, I ricocheted between laziness and workaholism until a mentor challenged me to view my schoolwork as a job. He encouraged me to set “business hours,” within which I would do all my classes and homework—and nothing else. When business hours ended, I could set the work aside and spend time investing in my relationships with God and other people. As I employed the counsel of this fatherly “ant,” I discovered that it was not only possible but also invigorating to live such a disciplined life. I had no guilt when 6:00pm arrived and I put my textbooks away to have dinner with a friend. I took an entire day each week to worship the Lord and rest in him, which freed me to become involved in my church. My stress level at exam time was much lower, and my investment in the Kingdom of God was much higher.
Question: How can you be more self-motivated or seasonally productive?