Tag Archives: Proverbs 6

A Common Complaint

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 (NIV)

I am on the road again this week working with a client. One of my roles with this client is to mentor some of their young professionals. Most are in their first managerial role. Over the years, I have learned that there is a pattern to the challenges with which they struggle. Just yesterday, I heard one of the most common struggles: “What do I do with the poor worker?”

These are the frustrations and common complaints I hear from managers and supervisors regarding poor workers:

The poor worker is never on time whether it is first thing in the morning or returning to work from break. The only thing to which the poor worker seems to apply themselves is how to appear to be working while doing as little as possible. The poor worker takes thirty-minute bathroom breaks. Poor workers like to smoke because the fifteen-minute smoke break (immediately upon arrival, mid-morning, post-lunch, mid-afternoon) is treated as a smoker’s right on top of the normal breaks. When the manager returns to the floor from a meeting the poor worker can be seen scrambling to look productive. The poor worker encourages a general lack of productivity across their team so that the standard expectation of productivity will be generally lower.

I thought of the poor worker as I read this morning’s chapter and Solomon’s admonition to consider the ways of the hard working, diligent little ant.

At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man, I admit that I look back on my life journey and observe a stark difference in the average experience of a young person in today’s culture. The economy of my childhood afforded opportunities and expectations for learning a work ethic. When I was seven and eight years old I was shadowing my brothers on their paper routes. At ten, I was substituting as a newsie for my friend, hawking papers twice-a-day in the wards of the local VA hospital. At eleven I had my own route in which I not only delivered papers, but also collected money from customers, learned basic accounting, kept a ledger, and was held accountable for the quality of my work and the accuracy of my figures. By thirteen I was working in a restaurant bussing tables. At fifteen I was working a cornfield. At Sixteen I working retail evenings and weekends. During college, I often worked three jobs while taking a full load.

I contrast this to the “poor workers” with whom my young protègès struggle. I also observe what appears to me to be a great number of young people who are employed for the very first time in their lives post-high-school or college.

In the quiet this morning I find myself contemplating the simple virtue of hard work which was instilled in my early, formative years. I confess, like all young people, I had to be prompted, required, reminded, and scolded as I learned the lessons of said virtue. Some of those lessons are burned into my conscience. And, for that I am grateful.

Speaking of which, I have a full-day of training, coaching, and reporting ahead of me today with a client. My day begins early and ends late.

Time for me to get to work, my friend. Thanks for reading.

<— Click on Solomon for an indexed list of previous chapter-a-day posts from this series from Proverbs!

About This Post

These chapter-a-day posts began in 2006. It’s a very simple concept. I endeavor each weekday to read one chapter from the Bible. I then blog about my thoughts, insights, and feelings about the content of that chapter. Everyone is welcome to share this post, like this post, or add your own thoughts in a comment. Thank you to those who have become faithful, regular or occasional readers along the journey along with your encouragement.

In 2019 I began creating posts for each book, with an indexed list of all the chapters for that book. You can find the indexed list by clicking on this link.

Prior to that, I kept a cataloged index of all posts on one page. You can access that page by clicking on this link.

You can also access my audio and video messages, as well.

tomvanderwell@gmail.com @tomvanderwell

Burning Down the House

Can a man scoop a flame into his lap
    and not have his clothes catch on fire?
Can he walk on hot coals
    and not blister his feet?
Proverbs 6:27-28 (NLT)

I still have a vivid memory of our daughter Madison reaching for a red hot burner when she was only a few years old. Fortunately, I reached her before her little mits fell on the searing coil. It was the classic scenario of teaching a child to keep away from that which will burn her. She learned the lesson, as most of us do. But, this nearly universal childhood lesson becomes an apt word picture for other life dangers.

Solomon uses the word picture as he asks the poignant questions above in addressing the topic of adultery. Along my journey, however, I’ve found that the same questions can be asked of any illicit behavior that results from indulging the sexual appetite. So I’d like to broaden the topic this morning from simple adultery to things like lustful thoughts, pornography (romance novels and erotica can prove just as spiritually deadly as hard core internet porn, by the way), extramarital flirtations, prostitution, and etc.

Please understand that I am not going on some puritanical, Focus on the Family rant. This is actually a very simple spiritual principle and it’s intensely personal. My life bears the scars from these flames and I write that which I know from personal experience. So listen up, my friend and hear me when I say: If you play games with the dangerous flames of sexual appetites you’ll eventually get burned. It might not happen right away. Like a drug, the aphrodisiac of sexual lust offers a potent high for seemingly little risk. At least, it seems that way at the beginning. But once you start chasing that high and the flames intensify you will not escape without getting burned.

At best your own spiritual life will be slowly reduced to the ashes of a desperate loop of guilt, shame and despair while you struggle to hold together and maintain a spit-polished facade for the rest of the world. At worst, you will burn down your house and scorch your loved ones with you.

Avoid the flames. Learn to control your sexual appetite. If you’re in the midst of the fire and your life is burning down around you then run for help today. It’s not too late. God is a God of grace, forgiveness and redemption who offers springs of living water in exchange for the destructive flames. It may not be easy, but it will be good.

 

Chapter-a-Day Proverbs 6

Bruegel Proverbs
Image via Wikipedia

Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones.
      Learn from their ways and become wise!
Proverbs 6:6 (NLT)

I often tell the story of my Grandpa Vander Well. A life-long educator, when he hit mandatory retirement from teaching he took over the school lunch and bus programs. Years later he was told that he had to retire from that position. He promptly found a job as bailiff at the county courthouse. He held that job until he was in his 90’s and the judge called him into chambers to tell him, “Herman, I’m tired of having to wake you  up to take the jury out. It’s time for you to retire.”

A short time later he was moved to a nursing home where he gave himself the job of welcoming committee for new residents. He would take it upon himself to show people around and teach them the ropes. “The day I stop working,” he was fond of saying, “is the day I die.” He wasn’t far off.

As a young man I underestimated the generational impact that my Dutch Protestant heritage had on me. The work ethic that my grandfather inherited from his Dutch immigrant father and the culture of his upbringing was impressed upon his children and his children’s children. There is a lot to be learned and profited from a willingness to work and the honor of doing a job well.

I feel a rant coming on. I will, however, spare you the reading. Today, I’m thankful for the example of my parents, grandparents, and ancestors who honored both work and rest. I’m thankful for both my labor and my leisure.

It’s Monday morning. Time to get back to work.