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7 characteristics of a lazy person

| by Bob Russell

In my blogs last month, I discussed the value of hard work. Today I look at the opposite side of the coin: laziness.

Years ago, I heard Charles Swindoll preach a sermon on “The Characteristics of a Lazy Man” from the book of Proverbs. I took notes and have occasionally used and expanded on those principles.

I’ve reworked them to the point I can’t remember which ones originated with him…probably most. The following characteristics help distinguish between appropriate ambition and downright laziness.

Warning to young adults

These characteristics are a warning to young adults; many have been over-protected and are unfamiliar with hard work. Young women, if the guy you’re dating has half these foibles, don’t marry him. He’ll keep you on the edge of bankruptcy.

1. He can’t get started in the morning. “Laziness brings on deep sleep . . .” (Proverbs 19:15). The sluggard loves the snooze button on the alarm. He just can’t drag himself out in the morning. In college, he often misses the first-hour class. On the job, he’s always late for early appointments.

2. He seldom finishes anything. “The lazy man does not roast his game, but the diligent man prizes his possessions” (Proverbs 12:27).

The lazy man likes to hunt; that’s the fun part. But cleaning his game, building a fire, and roasting the meat is tedious. He starts a lot of worthy projects but seldom finishes.

3. He’s full of excuses. “The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion outside! I’ll be killed on the public square!’” (Proverbs 22:13).

Likewise, the lazy individual will moan things like, “It’s a jungle out there!” . . . “I had to quit; my nerves were shot.” . . . “It’s Friday; no one works on Friday afternoon.”

4. He seems to get a lot of bad breaks. “The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway” (Proverbs 15:19).

The lazy man has a victim’s mentality. Nothing seems to go right. “Wouldn’t you know it, the morning of the interview my car wouldn’t start, and I was late for the appointment.” “I got caught drinking just one beer on break. Everyone does it. I just got caught.”

Everyone experiences a few bad breaks in life, but the lazy person brings it on himself. And he never makes the connection between behavior and consequences.

5. He talks a good game. “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23).

The sluggard is a big talker. He sounds impressive, but it’s a con game. When it comes to the daily grind of showing up on time and sweating it out, he disappears.

6. He’s full of unrealistic dreams. “He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty” (Proverbs 28:19).

It’s great to have big ideas. Solomon wrote, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18 KJV). If it weren’t for dreams, we wouldn’t have the Internet or the iPhone. But the lazy man dreams of easy money without any effort.

He’s going to win the lottery, hit the “pick six” at the race track, get rich speculating on futures, or be a movie star. These dreams are unrealistic because they are not preceded by hard work.

7. He gets on people’s serves. “As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is a sluggard to those who send him” (Proverbs 10:26).

Vinegar leaves a sour taste in your mouth. Smoke burns and irritates the eyes. If you have a goof-off on your team, everyone knows it, and it irritates those who work hard. They roll their eyes and tolerate it, but the loafer destroys morale. “One who is slack in his work is a brother to one who destroys” (Proverbs 18:9).

Work eagerly

Of course, all seven principles apply to women too. Solomon ended the book of Proverbs praising the virtuous woman who “gets up while it’s still dark” and “works with eager hands” (Proverbs 31).

If you struggle with laziness, heed the admonition of Proverbs 6:6-8: “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander or overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.”



Bob Russell

At just twenty-two years of age, Bob became the pastor of Southeast Christian Church. That small congregation of 120 members became one of the largest churches in America, with 18,000 people attending the four worship services every weekend in 2006 when Bob retired. Now through Bob Russell Ministries, Bob continues to preach at churches & conferences throughout the United States, provide guidance for church leadership, mentor other ministers and author Bible study videos for use in small groups.

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