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Consider the Ant in Your Definition of Work Ethic (Proverbs 6:6)

Hidden Nuggets Series #78 – “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise…” – Proverbs 6:6

consider the antDo you know any sluggards? That’s a term rarely used in our world today. The first thing I think of when hearing that word are creeping, slimy slugs.

You could easily identify what a sluggard is though if I gave you some synonyms. How do these words grab you – lazy, sluggish, loafer, slacker, and couch potato. Get the picture now?

The Bible has a lot to say about the lazy. This passage in Proverbs 6 may be the best known of them all. I think mostly because it tells us to consider the ant – an animal we hardly ever pay attention to.

I don’t really consider the ant much. The only times I really notice them is when one is crawling on me or I see a big mound of Georgia red clay coming up out of the ground. Here’s a tip – if you see one of those don’t step in it. Ants will swarm you for sure.

Yet here in Proverbs 6:6 they are shown to be a model example of work ethic. In fact, the sluggard is encouraged to “Go to the ant” and “Consider her ways…” In other word sluggards, the Bible is shouting at you “Pay attention to what the ant does…you could learn a thing or two about working hard!”

Consider the Ant and Her Characteristics

In the next few verses, the Bible goes on to describe some really cool things related to the work ethic of the ant. Here is the description in its entirety:

Go to the ant, you sluggard!

Consider her ways and be wise.

Which, having no captain, overseer or ruler,

Provides her supplies in the summer,

And gathers her food in the harvest.” (Proverbs 6:6-8)

So much can be drawn out of these verses. But as we consider the ant, I see three big conclusions to be aware of related to work ethic:

  1. The ant motivates itself. We see here the ant has no captain. There is no overseer or ruler telling the ant what to do. The ant knows what to do and motivates itself to accomplish the task.
  1. The ant looks out for itself. The ant provides for her own needs. She gathers her supplies (literally bread or meat) when needed. She is not looking to someone else to provide for her. It’s up to her and she knows it.
  1. The ant pushes itself. There is a season for everything and during the harvest the ant gathers her food. When it’s time – when the really hard work needs to be done – she doesn’t shy away from it. She pushes herself to gather what’s needed when the time is right.

The reward for her industrious work is a bountiful supply of food that will sustain her going forward.

The Challenge and Warning to the Sluggard

The sluggard exhibits none of these characteristics. Rather he is content to rest and let others pick up the slack. Don’t you just want to slap him across the face to wake him up?

Well the Bible tries with this challenge and warning:

“How long will you slumber, O sluggard?

When will you rise from your sleep?

A little sleep, a little slumber,

A little folding of the hands to sleep –

So shall poverty come on you like a prowler,

And your need like an armed man.” (Proverbs 6:9-11)

The implication here is clear: If the sluggard continues with his loaf-around ways, poverty will come to him. The sad thing is that it will happen unexpectedly. He won’t even see it coming until it’s too late.

How’s Your Work Ethic?

The Bible is not saying there is something wrong with sleep. Or even relaxing. Or even vegging on the couch from time to time. We all need that time to rest our bodies and unwind our mind and emotions.

The difference is that someone who is a sluggard has committed to a lifestyle choice. Laziness is the default direction they move in. There is no drive, no commitment to provision, no desire to break a sweat in the mind of the sluggard.

You can forget about any strong work ethic with the sluggard. There is none.

Where are you at today? If you are living the sluggard lifestyle there is danger around the corner. Poverty and hardship are waiting at your door – if they are not already there.

You’d be wise to consider the ant and emulate her ways. She doesn’t live an easy life but it’s one that leads to great rewards.

Questions: Do you ever have trouble motivating yourself? Has their ever been a time in your life where you were completely lazy and couldn’t break out of it? If so, how did you turn it around? Can you think of any other characteristics of the ant that would be positive to imitate? What else do you draw from the passage?

Original image by Jason Bolonski at Flickr Creative Commons

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Comments

  1. Amazing. I actually read proverbs 6:6 that I put on my vision board awhile ago. Tonight I decided to google the work ethics of ants, and came across your blog. What a blessing! Thank you for the insight, it was much need and enjoyable. Stay blessed.

  2. sule blessing says:

    wow.it relates to my work.thank u for the ANT talk.

  3. When I was a little girl, my mom would read this story to me over and over again. That is probably why I work harder in the summer than the in the winter LOL!

  4. As I read this post, I did think of my teen-aged daughter : ) I was very lazy when it came to household chores when I was her age too, so I’m hopeful it will pass. The role of parents is key in preventing the enabling of sluggardlines (new word).
    Another great thing ants do is amazing team work. So although they are self-motivated, they also know how to join forces powerfully. Sort of like Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits: effective independence AND effective interdependence combined.
    Prudence Debtfree recently posted…In Debt & Waiting for Inheritance: Not a Proud Moment for BoomersMy Profile

    • “…role of parents is key in preventing the enabling of sluggardlines (new word).” I completely agree with that. Parents have to set the example with this and challenge kids to not just lay around.

  5. Another term I learned “sluggard”. Ants are one of the amazing creature on Earth. It seems like they never get tired of saving food and working. I just wish I had that energy and motivation like that of ants.
    Jayson recently posted…New House UpdateMy Profile

  6. We could definitely get some pointers from the ants. Although they’re pesky creatures, but they do have their positive qualities. Sometimes people are just missing something that gets them really motivated. Sadly, there are people who are just content with letting someone else support them. That’s not how it works though. You reap what you sow.
    Joseph Hogue recently posted…Get the Best Bang for your Crowdfunding MarketingMy Profile

    • “…content with letting someone else support them…” Yeah, I know. If only they knew the rewards that come from supporting themselves. And those rewards aren’t just monetary. There are great internal rewards as well that change you as a person.

  7. I have definitely known a few sluggards in my life. 🙂 I definitely relate to ant and take a lot of pride in having a great work ethic. I have big dreams and know that they just don’t happen, you have to the work. Have a great weekend, Brian!
    Shannon recently posted…How Americans Spend their Tax Refund #InfographicMy Profile

    • “…big dreams and know that they just don’t happen…” So true Shannon! It takes effort and hard work…great things rarely if ever fall in our lap.

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