A brother to one who destroys

Proverbs 18:9 (NIV) One who is slack in his work is a brother to one who destroys.

So in other words: lazy people don’t necessarily destroy outright, they are just intimately related to those who DO destroy…this concept is also displayed in the idiom ‘idle hands are the devil’s workshop’.

I haven’t had much time to ponder and write as December and January are busy times for my line of work (that is– my outside-the-home work, which is in addition to home and yard; family and community ‘work’). This year circumstances beyond my control have made this season ‘at work’ even busier for me.

However, because I’ve been working more than usual, I have had lots of time to observe the work habits, and sometimes the lack thereof, of others around me. As well as how one worker’s laziness then creates a damaging and reverberating effect on the surroundings – both coworker and client or customer deeply feeling and having to deal with the consequences of these effects.

So I thought I’d take a few minutes before heading into the office, to flesh out some thoughts I’ve been having about all of that.

To be fair: I have also noticed my own gut and heart revolting and straining over the tedium that is part and parcel of my job duties. I feel myself struggling to recover from what, in all honesty, I need to just call what it actually is: Laziness. There are any number of tasks that I just ‘do myself’ at work rather than watch a coworker half-heartedly complete them or complete them sub-standard to what I wanted. These are often tasks that I find myself groaning inwardly about doing myself. My lazy heart not wanting to do them anymore than anyone else wanted to, but the realization that part of my duties as a Christian is to take joy in these things, regardless, is often what spurs me onward. And so I put that lazy part of me ‘to death’ for another day. Lazy-me will undoubtedly resurrect sooner or later, though, so don’t go thinking I’m all that. (I’m not).

When I was in therapy for diagnosed PTSD and anxiety disorder, I eagerly went down the blame-it-all-on-workaholism-and-perfectionism-trail of ‘you worked way too much for too long, you set way too high of expectations, and that’s how you ended up needing therapy for stress and anxiety.’

That ‘workaholic’ trail is wide and well traveled. Followed closely by the ‘perfectionism’ trail, which seems equally wide and well traveled. Many self-help (Christian and other) books have been published to get us to recover from things like perfectionism, workaholism, and stress. One therapist, and one minister I visited with, introduced themselves to me as ‘recovering perfectionists.’

Many of those ‘Christian’ books and programs I bought, or bought into, included things that were way too close to contemplative prayer, eastern breathing practices, meditation, and yoga for me to actually FIND relaxing and restful. (And if you’ve been reading this blog prior then you pretty much know that I had to throw that detail in. Otherwise — there’s an X in the upper right corner if you believe such things are compatible with Biblical Christianity–as I do not.)

Now that I’m several years out of the therapy processes that were helpful in some ways (particularly in recovery from sexual abuse)–but which I then found that I had to process back out of again as I didn’t like what certain aspects had done to my belief system– I see several points where I was led astray, and other points which raised a whole lot of questions for which I do not have any clear answers.

For instance: do sloth like, gluttonous, lazy folks really need to recover from working too much? Do they really need to be told over and over again that ‘God wants us to rest.’ Clearly: taking a day a week off is one entire commandment, of a mere ten. What about the other six days though? If we truly had found ‘balance’, then shouldn’t there be just as many self-help books being written about how to be diligent, self-denying, hard workers who overcome our sinful lazy natures and do not cheat our earthly bosses (or God) out of the time we owe them or Him?

When I read the letters to the churches in Revelation for a fresh time, my experience in organized Americanized churches and ministries– usually has me seeing American Christians as being exceedingly: ‘laodicean’. We sure seem ineffectual, lacking passion, lukewarm…and, well, lazy. Lovers of pleasure, not sacrifice. Believers in wealth and self-esteem and learning to let God love us better; not prostrate on our knees with broken and contrite hearts before God confessing how poor we actually are in the midst of all our filthy mammon (a broken and contrite heart IS the sacrifice He desires).

I glanced longingly at my office bookshelf the other day — realizing it would be a while until I got to a point at work where I could settle into some winter ‘free time’ to read–and as I ran my eyes over the book spines, I noticed how many titles there were about ‘rest’ and ‘relaxing’. And how few books I had about ‘doing things’. Save for some business, marketing, gardening and homesteading how to books (some of which are all about being lazy, LOL, and others which seem to have ulterior motives of saving and remaking the world by our own merits).

All of which convicted me further. I have entire bookshelves of waste that only feeds into my own laziness and desire for money and means I didn’t earn honestly.

I think a great deal of why the world, and the church, seems to be harvesting the fruit of our sins — can be summed up by Paul’s words to Timothy: For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. (2 Timothy 3:2 NLT)

Many Christians I talk with have been trying to find their purpose or figure out their calling. Indeed: seeking our purpose and finding our calling seem to slip right by these words in 2 Timothy. As it seems like we want to turn our lives over to God, like we are being self-denying and God seeking; not materialistic lovers of self and mammon. But reading today’s (January 14th) Oswald Chamber’s daily devotion gave me pause. To quote Chambers:

God doesn’t single out someone and say, “Now, you go.” He did not force His will on Isaiah. Isaiah was in the presence of God, and he overheard the call. His response, performed in complete freedom, could only be to say, “Here am I! Send me.”

Remove the thought from your mind of expecting God to come to force you or to plead with you. When our Lord called His disciples, He did it without irresistible pressure from the outside. The quiet, yet passionate, insistence of His “Follow Me” was spoken to men whose every sense was receptive (Matthew 4:19). If we will allow the Holy Spirit to bring us face to face with God, we too will hear what Isaiah heard— “the voice of the Lord.” In perfect freedom we too will say, “Here am I! Send me.”

What if our ‘sending’ is more like quietly sticking with a job or the task at hand and going through the tedium of service wherein God opens doors constantly for us to ‘share the reason for our joy.’ A work and calling that mostly goes unnoticed by the ministry organizations of today, work which seems to have little effect, but nevertheless which pleases the Lord and makes great contribution to those around us.

When we think of ministry or a calling of God, do we immediately think of the person washing the dinner dishes, or the public toilets at a small business with a gospel song and a word of encouragement or Godly correction always ready on their lips. As for me, too often when I heard the word ‘ministry’ or ‘work of God’ I would think of the writers and speakers and front of the room people leading the sheep. But is that type of thing the best way to tend to the sheep? Or does it reinforce the idea that the chosen ones are those who have the ‘obvious’ ministries and the rest of us just haven’t surrendered yet or we’d be there too, on those platforms or working in some ‘actual’ ministry role — (playing on the construct that Jesus set forth when He said many are called but few are chosen).

What if the chosen prove to be the believers who listened to a call which has them in some wilderness places, away from the spotlights and platforms, fighting back against laziness and selfishness by their very witness and life examples, and knowing that in so doing they are being a brother and sister to those who sanctify and preserve what is left. Rather than being a brother to those who destroy.

Could responding to a call from God be as simple as: stop being lazy?