I admit it … I have a lazy streak a mile wide, and it gets in my way in a lot of ways, often.
I don’t get to do so very frequently, but I most certainly have a propensity to lounge when given the opportunity. It’s one of the down sides of not having a lot of rainy days in California. Just one rainy Saturday or Sunday provides a lot of recharge for the batteries. (ha!) Now don’t misread me, I think there’s nothing wrong with a little R&R from time to time; actually, I think it’s Biblical. As Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 3:1, there’s a “time for every activity under heaven.” That’s the verse that legitimizes those days where I talk Helen into laying around watching TV on a bad weather day! 8-)
But there’s a difference between R&R and an innate laziness … a lack of dedication to completing a task and completing it with devotion to and pride in God. There’s a difference between doing something we enjoy well, and doing everything we do well. Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” I tend to disagree. I think we are, in essence, how we do what we do.
My reading this week (Proverbs 5 – 11, Isaiah 21 – 27, and Ezekiel 15 – 21) let me internalize a strongly-worded admonition that shaped my thinking on this. It’s in Proverbs 6 that we find (verses 6 – 11) …
Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up? A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.
So much is said through not just our actions, but in the manner by which we carry them out. All the more so when we look at the work that we do … not just in the office or workplace … but in a broader sense.
Our effort is a reflection of our attitude. Our attitude is a representation of our faith in and gratefulness to God. How so? Well, when we recognize the love God continually demonstrates to us, and all that He has entrusted to us (whether in material terms it’s much or relatively little), we can’t help to have the proverbial attitude of gratitude. But if that attitude doesn’t in turn permeate our behaviors, we are among all things “lazybones.”
When we have a grateful attitude, it exudes all we do. Little things and big things. Visible things and those unseen. It’s shown by being hard-working and industrious, by being complete in all we do. It’s shown by doing the “dirty” jobs, those that others don’t like to do. It’s inherent in paying attention to the details, not overlooking stuff because “no one will notice.”
Too often, when my wife Helen asks me to do something I’ll do it, but perhaps not right away, not without grumbling, not in a way that after 19 years of marriage I know she’d like me to perform the task. It can be small things or big things … inevitably, and all too frequently, I might get the job done, but not without somehow diminishing the experience. In the past, Helen’s actually appropriately stung me by checking my attitude with, “you wouldn’t do your work this way at the office, would you?” I might be consistent in doing the work, but if do it in a shabby or crabby way, I’m probably doing more harm than good.
This is another aspect of this idea … we may exert ourselves in differential ways based on where we’re working, for whom we’re working, or our “enjoyment” of the task we’re doing. Our character shines very dimly in such circumstances, because selectively choosing when we do our best is the opposite of doing our best.
We celebrated Thanksgiving this week. But we can celebrate it daily by how we do what we do. If we’re truly thankful, our behaviors will demonstrate it, consistently, genuinely and predictably. Let’s ask the Lord this week in prayer where we aren’t totally grateful and thankful … where our attitude is resulting from overlooking our many blessings … where the way we do all that we do is undercutting the actual effort we exert. Let’s ask Him to help us live, behave, and work in a way that embodies a life that is lived fully and appreciatively. It’s not enough to do something repeatedly, let’s do it repeatedly well.