Thoughts on Laziness and Poverty

by Joe Plemon on September 4, 2009

Cure For The Run
Creative Commons License photo credit: kwalk628

Pro 24:33, 34

“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.”

Christians, what were your thoughts when you read this proverb? Here are mine: “Well, it serves them right. After all, God’s word says that we reap what we sow and poverty is certainly the result of laziness.”

Of course the Proverb is true: laziness does indeed cause poverty. But the truth in the proverb does not warrant the judgmental attitude which surfaced in me.

My wife has always described our relationship as a hurricane: I am the whirlwind while while she is the calm in the center. As you might suspect, my nature of constant motion makes it difficult for me to identify with laziness, but I remember a time years ago when I discovered something surprising about myself. I was working for the State Highway Department on an Interstate construction project when the Operator’s Union went on strike, shutting down all construction. We state workers (non-union) continued to report to our construction trailer, taking advantage of the shutdown to get caught up on our paper work. However, after a week, we were caught up. We still¬†reported to work, but found productive work¬†more and more of a challenge. After two weeks, we had absolutely nothing to do. I hated it at first, but after another week I started getting used to doing nothing. When the strike was eventually settled and work resumed, I discovered this surprise about myself: I actually dreaded going back to work. In only a few weeks I had changed from hating the inactivity to enjoying it. I had become lazy.

I doubt if anyone ever set a goal of laziness. It may be that illness, job layoff or injury created inactivity which breeded more inactivity which became so entrenched that escape seems impossible. It is possible that this proverb is describing someone who is struggling with depression and lost hope.

As for my attitude, I would do better to try to understand and encourage than I would to judge. That is what I think Jesus would do.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

People Against Laziness August 12, 2012 at 12:08 am

Nice article. You seems to suggest that laziness can be “taught” to a person by forcing or enticing them into a long enough period of inactivity. Of course there can be many other causes for low productivity in any individual case, so you are right to note that we need to avoid judging people’s motives. At the same time, though, an individual themselves can always see his/her *own* motives. So, if I look at my own motives and I see that I am just kind of work-adverse (i.e., lazy), then what can I do to get out of that cycle? (This actually is my personal view of myself, btw.) I suspect that there are a large group of other folks in a similar boat, when it comes to “what are my real motives.” So, if it can be taught, then can it be untaught?

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