How can I overcome slothful habits?
Study the Principles of Diligence
If you tend to yield to slothfulness, determine to learn the principles of diligence and adopt them as a way of life. “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise” (Proverbs 6:6). The ant illustrates basic characteristics that are lacking in the lives of those who are slothful: initiative, self-direction, respect for seasons, the ability to finish jobs, and foresight needed to plan for the future.
Learn about the ant and memorize and study passages of Scripture that address slothfulness and challenge you to become diligent. Read biographies of great Christians to learn how they developed diligence by obedience to God’s Word.
Recognize That Slothfulness Develops in Stages
Slothful behavior is a temptation for all of us. Anyone can become a sluggard. The gradual development of slothfulness usually begins unnoticed; however, if left unchecked, it disables those who surrender to its appeal.
- Latent Slothfulness: the inward tendency to reject God’s requirement for diligent labor
- Initial Slothfulness: making soft choices in daily decisions
- Disabling Slothfulness: when “little” surrenders to ease become a way of life
How can you counter the development of slothfulness? Instantly obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit, become accountable to others for completing tasks, and develop the discipline of fasting.
Counteract Slothfulness With Hunger
One effective deterrent of slothfulness is hunger. “. . . If any would not work, neither should he eat” (II Thessalonians 3:10).
A fast, coupled with studying what the Bible says about diligence, is a good place to begin your battle against slothfulness. However, before you start a prolonged fast, get your doctor’s medical advice. Long periods of fasting can have negative effects on a person’s health in some instances, and your doctor can give you assurance that a long fast will not be physically harmful.
Establish the Discipline of Rising Early
Getting up early in the morning strikes at the very heart of slothfulness. If necessary, be accountable to others for getting up on time. Resist the temptation to get just a little more sleep. When you wake up, get up!
A proper amount of sleep is essential for good health, and it is a gift from God. However, God warns us that too much sleep is destructive.
- Beware of the bondage of sleep: “As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed” (Proverbs 26:14).
- Beware of sleep that disables: “Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger” (Proverbs 19:15).
- Beware of loving sleep: “Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread” (Proverbs 20:13).
- Beware of sleep that robs: “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that traveleth; and thy want as an armed man” (Proverbs 24:33–34).
- Beware of untimely sleep: “He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame” (Proverbs 10:5).
- Beware of too much sleep: “How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?” (Proverbs 6:9).
Learn to Value Time
Time is one of life’s most valuable resources. This treasure is limited and fleeting, and once it is spent, it is gone forever. The end of your days is an approaching certainty. Use your time wisely. “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15–17).
By considering how much time you actually spend on weekly activities, you will gain a fresh motivation for making the most of your minutes. For one week, keep a record of what you do every fifteen minutes. Evaluate how many of the week’s 168 hours you used for sleep, meals, work, study, rest, entertainment, and conversation. The results may shock you! Use this information to help you order your days with wisdom.
“The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. . . . So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:10–12).
This material was developed from pages 224–225 of the Men’s Manual, Volume II.