Am I A Sluggard? 5 Key Questions To Ask

Ben Neiser
5 min readNov 7, 2022

There might not be another term of derision that I despise more in the Bible than Sluggard. It just sounds nasty. It’s really hard to say without your lip curled up a little bit. It gives the picture of some slow moving, pointless blob (a slug). The Sluggard is someone who is a fool and practices their folly within their work ethic. Yep, you read that right. Your work ethic is a measure of personal wisdom or foolishness. As a Christian, this term Sluggard, found many times in the book of Proverbs, is something that we should seek to avoid personal association.

But how do we know that we are a Sluggard?

Read this passage:

Proverbs 6:6–11

[6] Go to the ant, O sluggard;

consider her ways, and be wise.

[7] Without having any chief,

officer, or ruler,

[8] she prepares her bread in summer

and gathers her food in harvest.

[9] How long will you lie there, O sluggard?

When will you arise from your sleep?

[10] A little sleep, a little slumber,

a little folding of the hands to rest,

[11] and poverty will come upon you like a robber,

and want like an armed man.

Now, here are 5 key questions to ask yourself from this passage.

1. Do you have to be constantly reminded or managed in your work? Verses 6–7

Consider the ant, Solomon starts. The ant, a lowly creature that you and I wouldn’t think twice about stomping out. But Solomon calls us to take a closer look. The first thing that Solomon observes is that the ant needs no manager. It needs no supervision. The ant simply sees what needs to be done and does it. It has its own sense of accountability and drive to do a good job and to work hard.

Do you work hard without being told to do so?

Do you only work hard when your supervisor is around?

Do you have an internal motivation to work hard?

The Sluggard works when being asked to work. Their default mode is to blame management if something isn’t done right or on time. They take little to no responsibility for work not being done. They are rarely internally motivated to work. It comes primarily and overwhelmingly from external sources.

2. Do you think BIG PICTURE (long term) about work or only for today? Verse 8

The ant’s constant work ethic is there because they are thinking long term. They prepare and gather in summer and fall because winter and early spring will arrive. This will leave them little to eat. They gather now because they won’t be able to later. A wise person thinks more about career than a paycheck. They can put up with work place drama and certain levels of incompetence, because they aren’t just thinking for today. They step on the gas at work before their vacation starts.

Do you tend to hop around a lot from job to job?

Are you working for a paycheck or a career?

Are you being considered for promotions by your supervisors?

The Sluggard works for the paycheck. They rarely think past the month. They let off the gas before vacation, like a prolonged “senior-itis”. They hop around from job to job, primarily making lateral moves and being passed over for promotions.

3. Do you start your day late? Verse 9

The ant rises early. There is a sense of urgency (not busyness) in their work. There are only so many hours in the day to get work done and the ant takes advantage of them all. The ant’s bed is a daily need to find rest and recover from a hard day’s work. It is a tool that then brings energy to go out and work another day. The ant’s bed is a resource not a refuge.

Do you have a tendency to sleep in?

Do you start your day late and end it early?

Is your bed a resource or a refuge?

Can I offer a modern proverb to you?

Like a drunkard to his bottle, so a sluggard to his bed. I do not take this statement lightly. But some of you are addicted to your bed and sleep.

4. Do you put off until tomorrow what can be accomplished today? Verse 10

The ant never procrastinates. If it did, it would die. The ant wakes up and gets accomplished what it set out to do that day. If it has time left, it starts to look at what else can be done. It never sees a task that it has time and energy to do and puts it off for tomorrow.

Do you rarely accomplish what you set out to do that day?

Do you often procrastinate?

Have you grown comfortable with procrastination?

The Sluggard is comfortable with procrastination. It is their default mode. “I’ll get to it tomorrow.” is their life mantra. They do it so much that their tasks pile up until they are overwhelmed. They can feel useless, because they rarely accomplish what they set out to do.

5. Do you wonder why your personal goals are never met? Verse 11

The ant never suffers “want”. Poverty doesn’t sneak up on them like a robber. Quite the opposite is true for them. The ant is not surprised by the results of their labors. They have everything they need, because it is exactly what they set out to do. Have you seen these people that accomplish what they said they were going to do? They worked hard. They saw the big picture. They started early and ended late. They didn’t procrastinate. Because of that, they met their goals.

Do you set personal goals that you rarely meet?

Do you suffer want and poverty and not understand how you got there?

The Sluggard has no clue why they are unsuccessful. It is hard for them to understand how others achieve and they don’t. The ant has a healthy expectation of the end result of their hard work. The sluggard is caught off guard by the results of their laziness.

So, now that you asked yourself these questions: Are you a sluggard or an ant?

Now, before I’m accused of this piece being the biggest equivalent to an old man shouting at teenagers to stop loitering and get a job, let me offer one more thought.

This viewpoint on work ethic is not an issue between an older generation and a younger generation. This is an issue between wisdom and foolishness.

Solomon’s hope, in writing these verses, was so that his sons would observe the ant, compare their work ethic to it, and change.

May Solomon’s words below serve as your motivation as you strive to become like the ant.

Proverbs 8:33–36

[33] Hear instruction and be wise,

and do not neglect it.

[34] Blessed is the one who listens to me,

watching daily at my gates,

waiting beside my doors.

[35] For whoever finds me finds life

and obtains favor from the LORD,

[36] but he who fails to find me injures himself;

all who hate me love death.”

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Ben Neiser

Christian. Husband. Father of two girls. Creative. Writer. Collaborator of Faith, Art, and Community.