Think of an ant.
Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
I often consider them pests. They bite. I somehow end up near them and get bitten.
But even then, pest or not, they are very productive.
Let’s think about ants for a moment. Here are some of their qualities:
They work as a team.
They work constantly.
They are strong. (In the picture above, the ant is pulling some large object in comparison to the ant itself.)
They are consistent. They have routines and patterns. Well, the ants I’ve watched do. That’s not including the crazy scary army ants or other destructive types that kill everything… (and we are not talking about termites…)
They work little by little.
They don’t multi-task.
They contribute to the whole colony, not looking to make it big or get credit or get “employee of the month” all for themselves.
I know, ants are not people! But still we have some things to learn from them.
In order to consider the ant like the passage says, we can be more diligent in our tasks and faithful in the big and little things. Not matter the size, we can work to do it well and for God’s glory.
As someone with chronic fatigue, and struggles with energy and pain problems, I think it’s important to not consider the ant and get discouraged that I’m not being “productive”. Let me explain.
I like to be busy. I like to get things done and finished and put away all neat and tidy. I like to work on a project until it’s done.
Since my journey with pain began, I’m slowly learning that if I push through to finish a project (normally crochet or sewing or book repair, but also cleaning, cooking, ironing and laundry…) I’ll do too much and then next few days I can’t do much of anything. I overdid in my striving for completion (i.e. perfection…)
There’s two things there. Pride at finishing a job. (Boy do I love completing things!) and Impatience in not wanting to wait to finish. (I want to finish now!)
Hmm. So where’s the balance? I’m not sure. But I think setting priorities is a good place to start.
Consider the ant. What are the priorities for ants? Food, shelter, tribe/colony.
What are my priorities? My relationship with the Lord, my husband, and taking care of our home, my church ministries, our families and lastly, my creative projects.
I often get those out of order.
If I re-order them it doesn’t mean I’ll struggle less with pain or getting “everything done”, but it does help make sure the focus is in the right spot.
Sometimes the daily stuff, like household chores don’t seem as inviting as doing something “fun.” For me, reading, reading/surfing the net on my phone or computer, sewing or crafting is so much more fun than “other work”. But what’s more important?
I should add here that I do genuinely like to clean. I normally do some sort of housework each day. We also share some jobs (teamwork and delegation). I cannot use our our vacuum cleaner without pain, so that has become my husband’s job. Most of the other jobs are mine. But sometimes Steven helps out. I like the satisfaction of making the room better, and I love coming into a tidy space.
Even though creative projects are lower down on my priorities list, they are part of our way of saving money. Most of what I make are gifts for others. So my creating isn’t just for me. Most of our Christmas gifts were ones I made rather than bought. There’s nothing wrong with that. Just make sure the order of priorities is set to ensure meals are on time and relationships still nurtured. I start very early in the year with my Christmas and birthday gift list. I brainstorm ideas and start very early to gather fabrics or materials needed and try to work my way through to make things and have them ready long before Christmas so that it’s not a rushed project at the end. Also if I pace myself through the year, I’m not doing too much all at once (or at least that’s the plan.)
I don’t like to stop in the middle of my creating projects, so I set timers to remind myself when I need to stop to prepare dinner or do other tasks.
Sometimes I have to stop doing a task because of pain. It’s hard to know how much to do before I regret “pushing through.” For a job like our ironing, the pile can grow and it becomes too much to at one time without regretting it later because of back pain. Crochet and hand-sewing and book repair are the same. I have to make myself stop rather than keep going like I want to.
Break the job down into smaller tasks.
I hope this encourages you in your journey for setting priorities thinking about how to accomplish tasks. We can be productive and be a blessing.