Go To the Ant

character initiative self-development sorriness strength wisdom work ethic Sep 26, 2023

Go to the Ant!

My mother had a serious aversion to what she called "sorriness."

Not sorriness relating to feeling sorrowful or regretful, anguish or heartbreak. No. Sorriness as the state of being worthless and good-for-nothing, related to being lazy, shiftless, and lacking in ambition. "They're so sorry, they wouldn't strike at a snake if it was eating them," she'd say. Or "They'd be too sorry to live if breathing didn't come naturally." 

As someone who grew up in the Great Depression, Mom's work ethic was off the charts. She felt each day deserved an accomplishment. If she wasn't productive, she felt like she'd wasted the day she'd been gifted. She couldn't fathom why anyone wouldn't want to work, to be useful, to bring value to the world with their labor.

A close second irritant for her was people who needed every task pointed out to them by someone else. Where was the initiative, the drive, the ability to see something that needs doing and just do it? If a chair needed tucked under the table, she'd do it. If there were dishes to be done, she got them started. She valued initiative almost as much as her work ethic.

I only got half the initiative gene from her. I see things that need doing and usually step up. But other times, I'm work-blind. I can walk by a dust bunny a dozen times without picking it up or dragging out the sweeper. I can leave the dishes in the sink for a day or two. I don't get bent out of shape about it. My husband drags out the broom and starts sweeping down the cobwebs he sees when autumn temperatures start to fall, and the bugs seek shelter inside.

What creates initiative in someone? I think it has to be a value that is cultivated like wisdom. Scripture tells us there is a perfect example of wisdom and initiative if we are willing to look for it. We may have to get a magnifying glass, stoop down to look. "Go to the ant, O sluggard," the writer of Proverbs says, "consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest." (Proverbs 6:6-8)

The ant offers many lessons in power and initiative. They work together for a common goal; they carry multiple times their weight, literally and figuratively! They do what is necessary to prepare for the seasons. In a world where most of us are living by the seat of our pants, the ants go marching in, one by one, hurrah!

I want to be more like the ant. No one to boss me, no need for a boss, because I see what needs to be done and I do it. Not only will that reveal initiative, but I will never have to worry about being "sorry."

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