10 Characteristics of a Sluggard

During this time of year, one of my favorite things to do is relax with family.   Physically relaxation brings refreshment on many levels, not to mention the opportunities to make some memories with the ones we love.  God wants us to enjoy our times of leisure, but the Bible cautions us against becoming a “sluggard,” someone whose laziness is the hallmark of their character across all aspects of their life.  Here are 10 ways to spot a sluggard (hopefully you don’t find yourself in this list!).

  1. He doesn’t know he’s a sluggard – Proverbs 26:16
    As with any sin, pride sinks in to the sluggard’s thinking to make him assume he is always right.  His actions are somehow justified in his own mind, and he finds a “reasonable” excuse for everything he does (or doesn’t do, for that matter).  He won’t realize he’s a sluggard, but everyone else around him will notice.  Shockingly, the sluggard will assume everyone else is lazy, mean, or not nearly as smart and crafty as him.  The sluggard isn’t a person who does a lot of introspection – he’ll often just blame others for the poor results of his life, and he will often go on clueless about his condition.  Only the Word of God can pierce his heart, if he’ll let it.
  2. He doesn’t work well without supervision – Proverbs 6:6-8
    When the sluggard does work, he’ll need constant oversight in order to ensure that the job gets done.  A sluggard requires micromanagement (not a word I am fond of, personally), but it is the only way to ensure any of his assignments get done.  He will require constant oversight, frequent updates, specific directions, and extra motivation to stay on task.  While all of us could use some encouragement and good guidance to complete a project, the sluggard is an extreme case.  If you’re in charge of or working with a sluggard, you’ll probably feel that if you want the job done right you’ll just have to do it yourself, which will suit the sluggard just fine.  Don’t let the sluggard off the hook that easily.  Engage him to ensure he does the job.  It might be what snaps him out of his sluggish condition.
  3. He doesn’t plan for the future – Proverbs 6:8
    To the sluggard the only time that matters is now…right now!  The future is too remote to be concerned about for the sluggard.  Important responsibilities that require preparation and planning will go unfulfilled for the sluggard (yes, he’ll pay for it eventually but this doesn’t seem to resonate with him in the “right now” lifestyle).  Graduation, better employment, purchasing a home, saving for retirement, moving out of his parent’s house, and many others similar events are just a few examples of what will fall by the way side.  He may have dreams, but he won’t take the steps to fulfill them.  If it doesn’t matter right now, it just doesn’t matter.  Prudent planning is a foreign concept to the sluggard, and eventually he’ll suffer as a result.
  4. He sleeps excessively – Proverbs 6:9-10
    Doing nothing really takes it out of a guy!  The sluggard’s laziness keeps him from his employment which sets off a domino effect of struggles in his life.  He’ll be poor and needy as a result, and he’ll come to you to help him out!  You’ll think, “if those lazy bones would just get out of bed he’d actually make something of his life!”  That’s true, but not relevant to the sluggard.  He fails to see that his laziness drove him to poverty.  If you bail him out, you’ll just accommodate his sinful lifestyle.  If he gets some sense, he’ll change.  If not, he’ll go right back to bed and mope.
  5. He is irritating to his employer and co-workers – Proverbs 10:26
    When the sluggard does get moving, he is very difficult to work with.  He doesn’t want to work, doesn’t like people who do work, and doesn’t like people trying to get him to work.  If he does work, he’ll do the bare minimum to get by.  It isn’t beyond his reach to also take credit for work that he didn’t or can’t do.  Again, he’ll have to find some way to both justify his lifestyle and to get some spending money (that’s what’s most important for the here and now, remember?).  His co-workers will end up pulling his load around the workplace just so they don’t get in trouble for his ineptitude.  His employer can’t rely on him, and he’ll never make any advancement in his career.  His “work” will be like smoke in the eyes – it will sting and make you cringe.  If you work with a sluggard, it can be very frustrating.  Don’t let them get the best of you – remember you are working for the Lord and not for man (Ephesians 6:7)
  6. He is not willing to work to fulfill desires – Proverbs 13:4
    It has been well said that the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.  The sluggard certainly has desires, but if it requires work to fulfill those dreams you can be assured that those dreams will never be made into reality.  The only items of interest to the sluggard are those things that come quickly or easily.  The thought of work will stop him from achieving much in life.  Because he’ll still have the desires for better things, its not unusual for him to develop bitterness.  The world has what he does not have, and though he hates not having things he still will not work for it.  The satisfaction of his lust in the here and now will have to suffice.
  7. Always has an excuse to not work – Proverbs 20:4; 22:13
    If the sluggard can find a way to get out of work then he will.  He can somehow come up with an excuse, and any excuse will do!  Much to our surprise, the excuses will seem justifiable and understandable.  Some excuses seem reasonable (had a late night, enduring sickness, helping a pregnant wife, etc.).  Some excuses could really tug at your heartstrings (struggles at home, problems in marriage, kids having trouble in school, etc.).  While all of these excuses are viable in the right context, the sluggard will use them early and often when trying to get out of work.  He will leverage any situation to his benefit and use manipulation to weasel his way out of responsibility.  He’ll take advantage of a king and understanding person if he thinks it can get him out of work.
  8. He starts tasks, but does not finish them – Proverbs 12:27
    When the sluggard does muster up some ambition to begin a task, it is unlikely that he will finish it.  He may begin to work toward that Bachelor’s degree, but it won’t be long before he drops out.  He may begin a job search, but it won’t be long before he gives up.  The sluggard won’t see the work through to the end and likely find an excuse to justify his incompleteness.  Another characteristic evident here is that he is a great waster – he will waste time, money, and energy.  The sluggard is often a procrastinator who is looking for a reason to give up.
  9. He relies on “get-rich-quick” schemes – Proverbs 12:11
    Because of his aversion to work, the sluggard will find ways to get around working yet still have everything he wants.  The get-rich-quick schemes were made for people like him.  These schemes appeal to his senses of laziness and manipulation.  He will buy into the promises of the scheme because, for him, the it requires everything for which he stands: he doesn’t want to work, he wants others to do the work for him, and he wants to end up with everything he wants.  Ultimately, the scheme is a scam that leaves him worse off than when he started.  Of course, its probably somebody else’s fault that it didn’t work….
  10. He talks more about work than actually doing the work – Proverbs 14:23
    Despite the obvious lack of work performed, the sluggard will find ways to brag about the “successes” he does have.  These folks think they have the “Midas touch” as everything they do is just as they intended.  They fain ambition by bragging about their “accomplishments,” but they are really just boasting about their espoused lifestyle.  Additionally, the sluggard will brag about any work accomplished around him even if he isn’t the one doing the work.  He’ll make it sound as though the whole project came together because of him (of course, he won’t likely say this around his co-workers – only around those he can manipulate).  He’ll take a molehill of success and turn it into a mountain.  As long as you never actually see him on the job then the gimmick will work.  Such hypocrisy has its rewards for the sluggard, but such bragging is empty and meaningless in the eyes of God.

The opposite personality that stands in contrast to the sluggard is “the diligent” (Proverbs 22:29).  The diligent person understands that their life has purpose for the Lord Jesus Christ and for the world in which we live.  The diligent person is the one isn’t afraid to work and reaps the rewards of his labor.  Moreover, the diligent person is one who understands that he does his work before the eyes of God, and he strives to be “blameless” as he gives his best to his work (II Peter 3:14).  Whatever it is you find to do with your life for the Lord, do it with all your might (Ecclesiastes 9:10)!  The sluggard is a fool, but to be diligent is to walk in the way of wisdom!

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