Sloth: Doing minimal or the least important work and loving ease.
What a different take on sloth Stevens and Ung present in this Chapter 9! ?
What comes to your mind when you hear the word sloth? Here’s my list:
- Lying on the couch taking in mindless hours of blokes kicking footballs (any code will do)
- Burying myself in a book and ignoring whatever is going on around me
- Procrastinating about those many small tasks around the house and office that could be done in 5 minutes but get put off for another day
- Seeing and knowing I should take some action or speak to someone but just not making it happen – more procrastination
On the other hand, I also have tendencies towards workaholism so when Steven and Ung expand their definition of sloth to include extremely busy people, it came as a bit of a shock. ?The workaholics, they say,
‘… ignore family and loved ones; they ignore pain signals telegraphed by their bodies; and they are self-absorbed. They treat people in a perfunctory manner. ?And without the high-adrenaline buzz of work, they feel useless, listless, guilty, and depressed. Such withdrawal symptoms are strangely similar to someone who’s chronically lazy … The heart of the problem lies in the fact that the morally and spiritually lazy person is someone who prefers to whittle away at lesser problems while refusing to attend to the most important work at hand.’
?When considering how sloth might impact the workplace, five slothful personalities are suggested:
- The drifting worker who hates the tedium of daily work and drifts from one amusement to another
- The ‘spiritual’ worker who struggles to get going in the workplace but perks up when it comes to church life – ‘… Christian witness is undermined due to a half-hearted attitude to work.’
- The disengaged worker – present in body but the mind is elsewhere. ?This person demoralises co-workers and sucks energy from the workplace
- The spectator worker – ignores the needs of others and looks the other way; never around when it matters. ?(We’d call this person ‘blister’ in Australia – only turns up after the work is done.)
- The extreme worker – the most common contemporary example of the slothful personality who finds work alluring and exciting. ?They make work an idol.
So what is the remedy? ?How can we counteract the two extremes of sloth – laziness and workaholism? ?
- Follow the example of Jesus who saw needs and met them (John 5:17); who responded to the will of his Father; who understood his limitations and had no illusions about self-sufficiency (John 5:19)
- Be willing to undertake the small tasks of life: “We break the choke hold sloth has on us when we learn to be at peace with housework, calmly washing dishes and ‘doing the meanest household chores cheerfully and filled with love and affection for God.” ?What are the menial, small tasks in your workplace where you can humbly serve your colleagues? ?Cleaning up after morning tea is always a good place to start!
- Remember the Sabbath: Take a regular 24 hour break in a way that allows you to refocus on the real meaning of your life as you entrust your life and work to the God who, ‘neither slumbers nor sleeps‘ (Ps 121).
Next time: Faithfulness ? Persisting in important work with utter reliability (Chapter 15)
Stevens, R. P., and Ung, A. (2010).?Taking Your Soul to Work: overcoming the nine deadly sins of the workplace.??Grand Rapids, Michigan. Eerdmans
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