Overcoming Inertia

Throughout the Bible we are encouraged to be people of diligence, committed to the tasks in life that we need to accomplish. Some, however, do not consider this a privilege, but a burden. For those folks the daily grind of laziness is an undeniable reality. For this entire week, we’ll take a close-up look at this practical plague.

Of all the Scriptures that address the issue of laziness, none are more eloquent than the sayings of Solomon. Among the terms he used for the lazy, sluggard appears to be his favorite. When I trace my way through the Proverbs, I find six characteristics of the sluggard. Over the next few days, we’ll examine them together and determine ways to avoid the sluggard’s errors.

  1. The sluggard has trouble getting started.

How long will you lie down, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
“A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest”—
Your poverty will come in like a vagabond
And your need like an armed man. (Proverbs 6:9–11)

You may remember this passage from our discussion of the grind of procrastination. (It might be worth reviewing Week 12 before reading on.) There is no getting around it: laziness focuses on the obstacles, the excuses that loom large on the front end of a task. Those who are lazy just can’t seem to roll up their sleeves and plunge in.

In addition to the already mentioned causes of procrastination, I would add this: the size of a task can often be daunting. Nothing can stop me in my tracks faster than feeling overwhelmed. Just thinking about all the details and the immense effort the job requires is exhausting. I would rather lie down for “a little sleep, a little slumber.” To ease this grind, I find it helpful to break the job down into manageable pieces, and I make the first portion of the job relatively easy to accomplish. Doing this helps me get started. If I can overcome the inertia and begin tackling a difficult project, the momentum I gain helps me continue.

At other times, I find it hard to start a large project because I’m not sure where to begin. I worry that doing things out of order will create more work, making the already difficult job harder to complete. If I dawdle around too long, however, “poverty will come in like a vagabond,” so I can’t do nothing forever. Sometimes, I’ve found, it’s best to simply jump in and start working. Inevitably, I quickly get a good sense of where I should have begun and a plan quickly unfolds in my mind. I might have wasted some effort, but at least the project is under way.

From Living the Proverbs by Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of Worthy Inspired., an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

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