22220.026 Plan the Work and Work the Plan

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. (Proverbs 6:6-8)

A godly family member has been successful in the lumber business in Nebraska. After taking over ownership of the family enterprise, he expanded the original location, opened a second lumberyard in a nearby city, and grew the business substantially. A young hire who demonstrated a rather pronounced aversion to hard work told the owner one day, “You sure are lucky.” In his inimitable, easygoing Nebraska style, he replied, “You know, I’ve found the harder I work, the luckier I get.”

I have found many both white-collar and blue-collar people among the hardest workers on the planet. The pressure, fierce competition, and breakneck pace of the American business culture makes the forty-hour workweek a mere fantasy for many, as they log fifty to seventy or more hours a week.

Then there are the “sluggards.” Though not a commonly used word, I like “sluggard”. It sounds like “slug” and “sluggish” and rather nicely por­trays the person whose “get up and go” apparently has gotten up and gone. Solomon and his colleagues hold up the non-sluggard ant as a model for human wisdom in work…in three dimensions.

First, the ant has no earthly boss to crack the whip to get it going. While it benefits from divine programming in its instincts, it is a self­-starter. I’ve met a lot of young people with dreams who spent literally decades waiting for the “big break” to come but not willing to work for it to come. They nearly starved.

I told one such sluggard, “You always have full-time employment­ working at a job or looking for one.” The second part of that equation had apparently escaped him. A gospel song declares, “Jesus was a working man.” He was… and is… and expects us to work hard as well.

Principle: A mark of God’s touch on fallen human beings is a love for and commitment to noble labor. Laziness is a major concession to sin and wreaks passive destruction.

Proverbs lauds the ant for its advanced planning and execution. Sluggards don’t make preparations for the future and implement them. Like lottery winners, they live by, “Hit it big, spend it big. Fall on hard times, end up penniless.” Many could have “Ready, fire, aim” as their life motto. They have no real goals or plans—dreams and fantasies, but no goals or plans—and no channeling of resources to pursue either.

Principle: Those who aim at nothing are guaranteed a direct hit. Those who set goals but focus no labor on achieving them are no better off than the goal-less ones.

Finally, the writers of Proverbs laud the ant’s productive labor. The ant harvests and it stores. Both are hard work! I heard once that if humans could carry loads proportionate to our size and weight as an ant, we could carry loaded railroad boxcars! How wonderful it is that those of us who are surrendered to God and trusting Him have supernatural power available to carry the sometimes overwhelming workloads of life.

Principle: No one can handle the heavy workloads of life with­out God’s strength. To try is an ungrateful reliance on prideful self.

[from “Wisdom for the Trenches” by Dr. Larry W. Poland]