You Might be a “Sluggard” if…….

The dictionary defines a “sluggard” as a habitually inactive or lazy person. Here’s an example. My wife Joanne is mentoring a young lady who just got out of prison. While incarcerated, a grandmother cared for her 4-yr-old daughter. This gal counted the days until she could be reunited with her precious little girl. Three weeks after she was released she was told that the father of the child wanted full custody. It seemed odd that he was unwilling to care for his child while the mother was in prison – and now he has a sudden desire to be the sole caretaker.

However, the rest of the story soon came out. He has discovered that if can get custody of this little girl, he will receive free housing, food stamps and a monthly stipend. He can totally remove himself from having to work, and can live the life he has apparently dreamed of.  I’d call this guy a sluggard.

I have three questions:

1. What motivates a person to stoop this low, in using an innocent child as a ploy for personal gain?

2. What has to happen to a person to give up on this level – to decide that a meager handout is better than the wide-open opportunities we all have in front of us?  And thus deprive oneself of the incredible satisfaction of meaningful, purposeful and profitable work?

3. How have we as a society allowed this kind of option to even be made available?

The Biblical Proverbs are full of interesting descriptions of the “sluggard.”
Here are just a few telltale signs:

  • The sluggard is a procrastinator. Sluggards love to sleep, watch TV and put off anything meaningful until tomorrow.
    How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? (Prov. 6:9)
  • The sluggard is self-seeking. Always looking out for number one – himself. He has no consideration for anyone else.
    The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied. (Prov. 13:4)
  • The sluggard makes no plans for the future. Every day is like the previous one – just wait and see what happens. He thinks only of the present. He constantly talks about tomorrow, because that’s when he’s going to do something important; but he never thinks ahead.
    A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing. (Prov. 20:3-5)
  • The sluggard uses unfounded fears and excuses keep from doing anything. The sluggard cannot possibly get to work because there might be some challenge out there.
    The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside!” or, “I will be murdered in the streets!” (Prov. 22:13
  • The sluggard lacks self-discipline and self-control. Whatever is easy and immediately enjoyable will always be his first choice.
    The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth. (Prov. 26:14)

Okay, I know this doesn’t describe you – but what would you recommend for dealing with people like this?

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38 Responses to “You Might be a “Sluggard” if…….”

  1. Travis Says:

    Wow Dan, that really nails a couple of people in my life, at times even myself to some degree. I know from my personal experience I got knocked down pretty hard by a 10 month period of deaths of 6 of my friends and family, immediately after a heartbreaking relationship ending….I had lost hope.

    I still am without a plan to leave a good paying job that I hate but I have a sliver of hope now that it is possible, where I didnt before.

    Through yourself & Dave Ramsey’s work I’m finding hope again. Thank you for that.

  2. Jason Says:

    I only have one problem that is mentioned here. Procrastination. I honestly don’t believe that I’m a slugger, but how can I solve this problem?

  3. Beverly Says:

    I handle procrastination by rewarding myself when the thing I least want to do is done, which I always do first and leave the easier or more fun things next. I also have a great sense of pride, so it is important to me that my home, my family and I are well taken care of. When I goof off, and I do, I don’t feel guilty.

  4. Sabrina Says:

    Oh my! I must admit that on some days this could definitely be me. Like Jason, my main problem is procrastination. I feel like my life is stagnate because of it. Any suggestions to get past this would be great. Hopefully, I won’t procrastinate putting them to use.

  5. Mark Says:

    I am sad to say that I am a sluggard. I think anyway, I am not sure. I will think about it and get back to you tomorrow. Will I get anything if I admit it? What good will that do me though, I mean someone will take whatever I get. I can’t even see the reason to respond.
    Whenever a mirror is put into my face I can see it. Thanks for the reminder to keep on keeping on. Yours Truely… Sir Sluggard!

  6. Kim Says:

    I may be a sluggard but I would never dream of living off of welfare. I have to keep the people who tell me what to do to a minimum.

  7. ev Imanueli Asalile Says:

    Hullo Jason.
    It is my prayer that God bless u!
    Now – Procrastination –

    The Bible says in Prov 1: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction. and in Acts 1:8 says; but u shall receive “Power’ when the Holy Spirit come upon u.
    You see jason? once these 2 thing come on ur way. your life will be so colorful! I shall give u more nextime……..Stay blessed

    ev imanueli,….from East Africa

  8. Di Says:

    I know a woman who had a baby to get social assistance and said she would have another as soon as the first one is too old for it. It is sad that that’s her only goal in life.

    To be a sluggard you need enablelers…

    I think we al might have some sluggard in us, I would rather not have to do house work and have somebody do it for me, but I like a clean and orderly house, and I take pride on a job well done.


  9. Una Says:

    OK. I have to admit I’m a sluggard. As an adolescent and young adult my life was well-disciplined and ordered. I made a mistake in my career choice by trying to prepare for a “marketable skill” instead of following my heart. After a mid-life career loss and years of struggling to regain momentum, I feel old, discarded, and out of touch. The loss of youth, beauty and what mental faculties I had has left me feeling depressed at times. Since I’m not old enough to retire, I do not have any personal income and am feeling increasingly like a drain on our “family finances.” I seem to have lost credibility for follow-through in leadership. I think my biggest drawbacks are a tendency to stall, waiting for everything to be perfect before I jump in, and a lack of confidence in myself. I’ve seen others with far less ability but a lot more guts go around me. Is it too late for me to make my mark, or am I reduced to TV, computer surfing, and waiting to move into a nursing home.

  10. Erin Says:

    I am a single mother of 3 who was on AFDC, and am now finally off, and I currently work as a case manager administering food stamps and medicaid. I have to admit that things are a lot tighter financially, I really have to take advantage of things like free breakfast at the school for the kids, and the harder I work, the higher my daycare costs are. There is that transition time when you come off benefits and are worse off financially than on them, and I try to remind myself of this when I deal with clients who do not want to work. A lot of the adults on welfare grew up on it, and therefore have neve experienced things like the satisfaction of providing for yourself, being productive in society, personal growth, and the non-tangibles that help you see beyond the meager budget for that month. I try to give my kids opportunities to acheive things on their own and not have things handed to them, and we talk about how proud they feel when they earn something, as opposed to having it handed to them.

    During my sluggard years, I was definately ruled by fear. It does take a risk to come off of the benefits, because almost always you will not go directly to making enough money that you will not have cut back a lot. It takes a lot of faith that God will provide, and I find that he does. For example, last night a family that we do not know well from my church had us over for dinner, and while we were inside, two men changed my oil, gave me a complete tune-up, and completely filled my gas tank, which was on “E.” They know I work, they know we will get by, but I think God had them do that for us as a reminder that He always walks with us. Without taking risks and working hard and being rewarded in my childhood, and without the faith that God will provide, I do not think that I would be able to see beyond the budget issues, because the immediate tangible rewards of being a sluggard seem more real at times than some vague idea of how things will be better in the future. Things like satisfaction in a job well done need to be learned and nurtured.

  11. Jason Says:

    This hit me pretty hard after reviewing these points. Part of the issue of procrastination is I think fear of failure or the unknown. So it causes people not to do anything. As for the guy I am not surprised. I worked in human services field and at one point I had clients drawing disability making more money than me. However they used their money to buy more drugs. Its sad that people goals are to have to do nothing and live off the government. Great article and I have a lot to think about today.

  12. Sophia Says:

    Hey Dan,
    First of all, I must commend you for such a good job you and your family are doing. I usually i’m not one to sit at the computer to read, but your articles are so captivating, and interesting.
    I must confess that I seem to fit into a description of a sluggard, often times, i know what i’m supposed to do, but I wait till the last minute.
    My advice to any sluggard is: wake up! Time waits for no one.
    I learnt this the hard way when I got kicked out of school for being lax with one of my final year courses. Pretty Painful!

  13. Alicia Says:

    Wow, everybody thinks they are sluggards. Probably because the first description says “sleeping and watching TV” and that is what everybody looks forward to and does for enjoyment these days. I am not a sluggard but my husband is very much a sluggard. It is very hard to deal with.

    For example: My husband recently got laid off from his job and he was a sluggard in his new job search. I stay at home with our daughter and I was not going to sit back and let him take whatever job came to him. This was our opportunity to advance. I prepared the resume, cover letters and found all of the contacts. He had to do the interviews of course but then the time came for the follow up after the interviews and he wouldn’t call. He refused and we went back and forth about it for days. He wouldn’t do it. I finally decided that an email follow up is better than no follow up so I wrote out follow up emails for him. And what do you know, the next day he got an “AMAZING” job offer.

    I think the offer raised his ambitions a little bit and pulled him a little out of his sluggardness. I think maybe people are just down on themselves too much.

    I usually do not take action like this on my husband’s sluggard ways. I usually try to lead by example and always invite him to join me. He usually declines and it is frustrating and even lonely but maybe one of these days he will get out of his slug!!

    As for the people on welfare I usually just talk about them behind their back and get frustrated that our government gives soooo much to make people comfortable enough to get more out of handouts than working. Some people do need it for a short time to help in their time of need but to live on it and rely on it instead of working is not right.

    I used to manage a quick lube and I will never forget giving a certain individual another warning about his work behavior and he asked me to just fire him already. Apparantly he made enough money collecting unemployment. Getting fired so he could collect was his goal all along.

  14. Angela Says:

    I am sorry to say that I fall into the sluggard category 😦 Not because I want to, but I am afraid of doing anything. I am afraid I will fail. I have no college education, but I do have a desire to succeed…I just have no concidence to see it all through.

  15. Steven Says:

    The Bible says if a man will not work, neither should he eat (2 Thes. 3:10).

    When a man has the ability to work, but refuses to do so, he should simply starve to death…according to the New Testament. I do not give such people any help or handouts. It takes away from those truly in need and deserving of compassion and pity, and it encourages the sluggard to remain in his condition.

    I feel sorry for the little girl. It is amazing that a man could use his daughter like this, but that is the nature of our society. People neglect and abuse others, even murder them, for their own selfish ends…without age discrimnation. Until our neighbors decide they have had enough, the government (politicians) will continue to coddle such evil and laziness. The best hope we have is to teach our children and grandchildren better, and try to work on our neighbors as well.

    Thanks for everything Dan.

  16. chunque Says:

    This is my definition of a sluggard:

  17. Are you a sluggard? and a follow up to mean girls « little sanctuary Says:

    […] May 14, 2008 by Kim Dave Miller has a great blog on the sluggard. […]

  18. Linda newlywed Says:

    Been married to wonderful husband who allows me to be all I want to be.
    We both are lacking in housekeeping and the dishes are still waitting.
    I ‘m washing clothes fine I like washing clothes. Dishes I like clean & place to small for dishwasher. We could say our 7 yr old does it for fun. It’s a chore. I’ve told others of my dishes piling when I’m upset with depression that hit hard this past April. Guess I could do parts. My husband hints. I did sing in a choir for mothers day, with 5 reshersals and only 11 of us. Lots of work but so rewarding, when I saw my 2 older son’s at end of last song “Amazing Love” I just sang louder all to glory of God.
    I love being a mother and now wife. Keep up great work!

  19. Marlene Says:

    I have worked in a the mental health field for 29years and have seen so much abuse of the system, and the increasing use of words like “entitlements” and “incentives” when it comes to people who are not truly mentally ill, who are lazy, entitled, shrewed, and sluggards. These folks get superior medical treatment, free glasses, assistance with dentures, housing, mental health treatment, monthly income based on what they might of earned if they worked for a life time, These are folks who in my day were druggies, sub cluture and drop outs not truly mentally ill. It has caused me to want to get out of this line of work which encourages this and justifies it, and takes the money and energy away from the truly mentally ill.

  20. ForbesG Says:

    Well, this is for Mark and many like him. I don’t regard myself as a sluggard, though I may exhibit someof the attributes. Still, after losing my “chosen career” and moving trough a few startups and owning my own business I find that I still need help.
    I feel that by helping others that I am also helping myself. Dan’s books and programs have shown me that there is more to life than a couch, a TV or a computer. Sure I still do these things, but only as a form of relaxation, not as something I NEED to do. I have taken a job at a membership warehouse as a marketer and have learned a few new skills and also learned that I hate working for a company. Especially one that I answer to 18 year olds.
    So, Mark, et al, strive to find your calling, work with someone that can help you along your way, but remember, there is no magic bullet UNTIL you take the steps that really matter. Follow your heart and your imagination. Find your dream and pursue it as if it was your first love. Make it the most beautiful thing in your life, include others and you will find that being a sluggard is really not what you should be doing. You will become someone that has a future and that future is not in a retirement home. It will be in a life worth living and haring with others.

  21. Leslie Says:

    My brothers ex-wife fits every single one of these characteristics and unfortunately my brother has a child with her. She hasn’t worked since she met my brother and during that time frame they had 2 houses foreclosed on and multiple cars repossessed and have filed bankruptcy twice. Now that they’re divorced she still doesn’t work and is living off of my brothers child support payments and food stamps. And she would get more government support if she could. It’s just unbelievable that a person can live this way and have any self respect at all.

  22. sue Says:

    Dan, I am a sluggard. You have described me very well. It is hard to admit but what else can I do. I seem to always make excuses for not doing what needs to be done. Usually I am too tired or worn out. Standard excuse. I make plans but have no follow through. big ideas and dreams but no energy to apply the work needed . I think I don’t like me.

  23. Mich Says:

    I’ve been saddened to read some of these blogs in which you say you are afraid of failing, or you feel you’ve reached the end of your life and there is nothing more for you to do but watch TV and feel bad.
    Please don’t give into those lies! “I can do ALL THINGS through Christ who strengthens me.” God gave you special abilities and talents. You are a person of worth. Yes, you may have made some poor decisions in the past; I know I certainly have! Join the club! That’s no reason to give up on yourselves! You have your life. You are still on this earth for a reason. Go back to school and find out what it would take to enter the career you ‘ve been dreaming about. Find out what you’re really interested in and what you’re good at. Chances are, there’s a career out there that would be a great fit for you. Don’t think that just because you’re older that you can’t change your life, and find true satisfaction. Start living today! You’ll never know until you try! Ask God to help you. He cares for you! Don’t give up!!!!

  24. Mack Says:

    It seems to me that there is a subtle nuance between the concept of a sluggard and a procrastinator. The sluggard appears to happily choose an unproductive lifestyle, whereas the procrastinator actually wants to accomplish something, and often does in other areas they are more confident in. In terms of procrastination, I recently heard the Rabbi Daniel Lapin assert that procrastination is quite often unresolved anger at a deep level, which would lead one to conclude that if you identify and resolve the source of your anger (which is presently leading you to feel powerless and impotent,) you ought to be able to conquor procrastination.
    I’ve been meaning to follow up on this when I get around to it… ;^)

  25. Yvelice Says:

    After working five years as a Medical Receptionist I had to quit in order to take care of my daughter who has developmental issues and my eight year old son not to mention that I also care fofor my 73 year old mother I had a ful time job and fulltime house hold.but my husband and I decided family was more important at this time.But during the time I was employ I have worked with different type of people and indeed some can be sluggish and lazy looking for employment but not for work.
    People like the one in the story are not different from others who come here from other countries and do the same in different manner.
    and it seems that no one cares about getting a solution to that except having the people that do work pay for things like that.Your Tax money at work

  26. Judith Says:

    Sometimes full blown depression is misinterpreted as laziness when it isn’t laziness. Don’t be so quick to make judgement based on what you see! There can sometimes be another story/reason behind a person’s behavior.

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  38. Cheri Says:

    I’m married to a sluggard and his two teen boys are too. How do you deal with this kind of behavior. I’m st my wits end.

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