'Go to the ant': 7 types of laziness for Christians to beware of
The Bible has quite a bit to say about laziness – and it's fair to say that it does not approve. 'The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied,' says Proverbs 13:4; 'Through sloth the roof sinks in, and through indolence the house leaks,' says Ecclesiastes 10:18.
There are lots more verses that say the same sort of thing. We are meant to be active, to work and to produce things. But we don't always realise when we're being lazy.
Here are seven types of laziness.
1. The laziness of sloth.
This is the good old-fashioned kind of which Proverbs speaks. Slothful people lack motivation, even when they're supposed to be doing something really important. They go to bed late at night because they're watching television until the small hours, and they get up late in the morning because they're tired. They know what needs to be done, but they can't be bothered to do it.
2. The laziness of distraction.
This is a particular temptation in our own day, when so many people's work involves looking at computers. It's so tempting to click on a link, then another link, and another. Or take a peek at Facebook, or reply to that tweet by someone who clearly doesn't know what they're talking about. Our attention wanders and we're off task – and really it's laziness.
3. The laziness of assumption.
This is when we can't be bothered to think for ourselves. We go along with the crowd, never questioning what we're told at church or what we read in the newspapers or see on social media. Thinking is hard word. Reading and talking to people who think differently is disturbing. It's easier not to – but it's lazy.
4. The laziness of displacement.
There are people who'd never be described as lazy. They work every hour of the day, they always seem to be busy and they seem, on the face of it, to be incredibly productive. But often they can be as busy as they are simply to avoid dealing with things they don't want to deal with. Someone who throws themselves into their work might be doing so to avoid dealing with an unsatisfying family life.
5. The laziness of delegation.
This is when we let other people do things that we ought to be able to do ourselves. We don't pull our weight, at church or at home or at work. The result is that our gifts atrophy. The woman who might be a brilliant preacher doesn't push for the opportunity to try. The man who could speak up and make a difference at work leaves it to someone else.
6. The laziness of busyness.
Some people cram every minute of every hour with activity out of a sense of duty. They've really taken on board the idea that they're accountable for their time, and they want to make the most of it. But there's a kind of laziness at work here, as well. Built in to the rhythm of life as God planned it is a sabbath rest, a day a week when no work is to be done. That's a great gift, because it's a chance not to be productive: to rest, to think, to create, to worship and to pray, coming face to face with God. And that spiritual discipline can be hard – it's so much easier to work, and avoid it.
7. The laziness of disorganisation.
Some people are busier than they need to be because they aren't as organised as they ought to be. It's easy to persuade ourselves that we're working flat out when we're really running around in circles, achieving very little. Sometimes our lives are just like that and we don't have much control – but sometimes it's our own fault. Disciplining ourselves and working smarter is an investment in our God-given time and talents.
So, 'Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise' (Proverbs 6:6).