Over the past several years, sloths have become a bit iconic. From memes to animated movies, they have become a visual staple in our culture. Whether it's Monday or a lazy weekend, sometimes our pace can be illustrated by the lethargic beast that sleeps 15-20 hours everyday that gets in a hurry for nothing. The Bible does not really talk about sloths but scripture talks a lot about the slothful.
Scripture uses several words to communicate the concept of slothfulness: sluggish, lazy, idle, slow, indifferent, careless. It's a deeper issue than simply not wanting to get out of bed in the morning.
Throughout the Bible and heavily throughout the book of Proverbs, we see warnings of this behavior because it can lead to debt(Prov 12:24), poverty(Prov 13:4) and even destruction(Prov 21:21). In Biblical culture laziness was no joke to be laughed at. It was very frowned upon, considered one of the lowest forms of behavior. Historically in the church and society slothfulness made the list of the 7 deadly sins. It's kind of a big deal.
We need to have days of rest, God commands it even. However, our mode in life should be that of diligence if we want to be successful and live a life that honors God.
Romans 12:11 (NIV) Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Other translations state to it this way: Never be lazy, but work hard(NLT)In diligence not Slothfull.(ASV)
The greek root word is Okneo: meaning (1) to feel loath, to be slow (2) to delay, hesitate.
Spiritually we can become slothful- that is slow and indifferent. We become lazy, lose our fire, and we just coast. We figure just as long as we are not sinning as much as we used to that we are doing well. Stagnation in our walk can be just as detrimental as drifting. I want to ask you today, what does your spiritual diligence look like? Have you become slow in your pursuit of Jesus and his kingdom? Has your relationship with him grown mild? Have you became slothful in spirit? Have you lost your fire? If so, get it back! Return to your first love, your first passion and get it back! (Rev 2:4)
We are not called to just be spiritually diligent we are called to a life of diligence. What does diligence look like in your life? Are you slothful? I know a lot of us are naturally sloths. I get it, I’ve been there and have had to fight hard for a lot of years and lay down my tendency. I grew up in a blue color town and my dad modeled an incredible work ethic. Even in that environment, I had to fight the tendency to become slothful.
Slothfulness can be demonstrated in our lives in several ways:
1. Carelessness/ Apathy:
A lot of times it's just a heart issue. We simply don't care. If that is the case it simply ends there. If you are dealing with being apathetic every day, for as long as it takes get before Jesus daily and ask him to reignite your heart.
2. Consistently running late:
Most of us will be late occasionally. Things happen. Being late for things is very inconsiderate of people that are waiting on you. Being late tells other people that we do not value their time. It’s inconsiderate. Value people's time and make being on time a priority, it will speak well of you!
Procrastinating is not always about laziness but it’s about priorities. We will do what we find most important first. Don't wait till tomorrow to stop procrastinating. ;)
4. Failing follow through
It is critical as believers, and especially leaders, that we follow through with our commitment. When we don't follow through with what we say, it's essentially saying, “I have no integrity.” Be a person of your word. Your testimony and your reputation hinge upon it.
Follow through is a responsibility issue. Responsibility is not just the measure of maturity, it's the sustainer of our credibility.
Don’t overcommit, don’t oversell. There is a difference between what you can do and what you actually will do. Make sure that your commitment is not what you intend to do but what you actually will do.
"Responsibility is not just the measure of maturity,
it's the sustainer of our credibility."
5. Lack of motivation:
I believe for most people slothfulness is a motivation issue. Whether you fell like doing it or you don't feel like doing it, if you do it the outcome is the same. Sometimes you only feel like doing it when you are doing it.
I love mowing the lawn. I enjoy being outside, the smell, the heat, the monotony of it. It's very therapeutic to me. However, I always dread mowing the lawn until I am mowing the lawn. Sometimes you just have to allow discipline to do the driving and allow the heart to follow.
Hebrews 6:10-12 (NIV) 10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
Dear Christian Millennial,
I love you. I believe in you. You are not just our future, you are our present. A movement is happening and you are spear heading it. You have become a label, a cliche, a point of buzzed memes, and you have been stereotyped. But I love you and I believe in you. There are a lot of uncertainties in the world at this point in history, but I am optimistic about our future. The world is yours to steward and I don't despise you.
I am a 40 something year old Lead Pastor, married, and have four kids. I am creative and an entrepreneur, so I feel like I get you in many ways, probably due to the fact that I work so closely with many of you now and have been a youth pastor to many of you in the last two decades. I want to do what I have done most of my life: I want to encourage you and lead you. I want to do that today by giving you a few things to focus on. I know we don't need another open letter or another blog about Millennials. I know you hate labels and I too am sick of all the negative attention your generation receives, but if you give me a few moments I want to invest in you.
1. Be Secure
Identity is so important to you. Like being true to yourself and searching your heart, these things are incredibly valuable to you. The likes on your latest snap selfie does not determine your worth. Since this is a letter to Christian Millennials, my encouragement to you is to yield yourself to your identity in Christ. Christianity is not simply your religion, it’s your identity. You are more valuable than you will ever know. When you discover His value for you, you will see that it dwarfs your tiny view of your personal worth.
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. -Colossians 3:3
2. Be Solid
Be a person of conviction. A person of long term conviction. Be set apart. Be sanctified. Live sacrificial and not superficial to your faith. Don't be so swayed by emotions or moments. Remember the YOLO thing…It was trendy for a reason. As you have grown up you have realized that living for the moment and living in the moment are totally different. Be smart and exercise self-control. Don’t live for the moment, live for an eternal reward. Develop an enduring work ethic with conviction!
"Living for the moment and living in the moment are totally different."
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. -1 Corinthians 15:58
3. Be Supportive
I watched some of you grow up in church and a lot of you are mad at the Church. I understand. There is a lot to be angry about, but your anger won't fix the Church. Your love will. Don't be so sarcastic and cynical. It’s not working. Be devoted to Christ’s Church. If you will love the Church like Jesus loves the Church, pray for the Church and commit to the Church as much as Jesus commits to the Church, it will be the Church that you can believe in. Be the Church. Be truly faithful to church, serve your church, raise your kids in the Church. The Church has a lot to offer you and you have a lot to offer her.
"There is a lot to be angry about, but your anger won't fix the Church."
Be devoted to one another in love. -Romans 12:10
4. Be Significant….Now!
I love your drive and desire for significance. I love that you want to matter. In order to matter you must become effective, and that takes time. Overnight significance is a myth. It’s going to take a lifetime of hard work. You matter and you will be significant, so stay the course. Focus on significance in the small and the mundane. Be significant in your commitments. Be consistent and significance will follow!
I love you. I believe in you.
There is a guy I see at the gym most days. He is probably in his 60’s, doesn't smile much, nor does he talk to other gym goers. I imagine him as a man that has worked hard his entire life. He is rugged and strong. Often times I see him on the bike or at the arm curl machine grinding out his workout. What fascinates me most about this man is that he does not have the typical attire of a gym goer. He wears athletic shoes, a trucker hat, a t-shirt, and jeans. Yes, he exercises every day in jeans. He works out hard wearing Wranglers with a long wallet sticking out of his back pocket. I also don’t imagine that he drinks Starbucks and is probably more likely to drink the canned Folders that is brewed for free at the gym. He doesn't have the look but he has the lifestyle. He shows up.
There are these ladies that frequent the Starbucks where I spend my Tuesday mornings. They order a skinny vanilla late and wear t-shirts, yoga pants, Nike caps, and athletic shoes along with pristine makeup. Their makeup looks so untouched most likely because they aren’t working out. They have the look, but they don't have the lifestyle. It's just fashionable.
I feel like this is how a lot of people are. They have the look but they don't have the lifestyle. Rather than focussing on the work, they focus on the look. In the highlight reel of the digital age, we show people the best moments of our lives. We give them our fashion, but do we backup the lifestyle? We keep most people at a screens distance, so naturally we live in a extremely sensitive and insecure culture.
Leadership has become fashionable. It’s trendy to use quotes, attend conferences, and hold titles. All leaders need to be students of leadership, but it’s one thing to be a student of leadership and it’s another to actually lead. We love the idea of influencing others, but it takes time and energy. It takes work. A lot of work. We can’t just carry the title, we have to show up.
Nobody likes hypocrisy. It’s not a new concept. Even Jesus hated it. The word hypocrisy is taken from the Greek term for “actor” and literally means “one who wears a mask”. (Ancient Greek actors wore masks during their performances.) So the true meaning of a hypocrite is someone who pretends to be what he is not. Now before you jump to the conclusion, I am not saying that yoga pant moms are hypocrites. My point here is that it does none of us any good to go around acting and putting on the garments if we are just playing dress up and pretending. Putting on a show.
Three easy ways to quit pretending:
1. Just be real
Be honest, and by being honest I don't mean that you announce your sin to the world with a megaphone. Stop feeling the need to cover up. It’s sad that a common term in our culture is “honestly” or “To be honest.” #TBH I mean, shouldn't we always be honest? Now, Self-Control is a fruit of the spirit that we should exercise regularly, but with people that we are living life with, we should let them know the real us- not the fake us.
“People would rather follow a leader who is always REAL than one who is alway RIGHT.” -Craig Groeschel
2. Show up
Our life and leadership will never produce if we only live based upon how we are feeling. There can be a great difference in how you feel and what you do. We must lead our heart if we want to experience life at the fullest.
One day at the gym, I noticed something about the man in jeans. He had a cane. I don’t know if he had it all the time but that day I noticed it. If I needed a cane I would skip the gym. But not this guy, he is the real deal. He doesn't make excuses, he doesn't let the pain keep him at home. He works out. It’s what he does.
On our best day or our worst day we show up. We are not being fake, we are being faithful.
"On our best day or our worst day we show up.
We are not being fake, we are being faithful."
3. Stay at it
Consistency is what defines us. It’s not our highlights nor our moment of weakness that reveals who we are. What we are made of is revealed throughout the seasons of our lives. Faithfulness ceases when we fail to be faithful, and fruitfulness is the result of being faithful. So stay at it! You are becoming the person and the leader that God has designed you to be. You can’t get results with out the hard work. Your job is to keep going and allow God to take care of your promotion.