Friday, April 1, 2011

Leadership Lessons from the Ant

Photo by jurvetson, Ants in Space!

“Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise . . .” –Proverbs 6:6

Every year at about this time in Virginia ants begin to invade. You may have experienced this before. As the weather gets nicer and the spring begins these little creatures wake up in the warmth and find their way indoors to look for food. Both in homes and in offices in Washington, DC and the surrounding suburbs, the ant’s takeover begins. These little creatures are nothing if not persistent.

If you watch the ant you can see they are disciplined, industrious, committed, hard-working, relentlessly crafty, and diligent. While looking at these creatures, it is also easy to reflect on Proverbs 6:6-11, which asks us to consider the ant and to be wise.

What does it mean to consider the ant? How would considering the ant’s ways make us wise?

Eugene Peterson’s The Message translation of scripture puts Proverbs 6:6-11 like this:

You lazy fool, look at an ant.

Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two.

Nobody has to tell it what to do.

All summer it stores up food;

at harvest it stockpiles provisions.

So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing?

How long before you get out of bed?

A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there,

sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next?

Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life,

poverty your permanent houseguest!

Here are ten things we can learn from Proverbs 6:6-11 and from watching the ant:

  1. There is no value in an overindulgence of slothfulness.
  2. There are lessons to be learned everywhere around us, so we should watch and learn.
  3. No matter how small the source of a valuable lesson, the truth is monumental and invaluable.
  4. We should be watchful and observant of what needs to be done and then do it.
  5. If we wait for someone to tell us what to do, we may be too late and may have missed valuable opportunity.
  6. Planning ahead is essential for life, for survival, and for success.
  7. Doing nothing leads us to nothing.
  8. Getting up is the first step and “a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.”
  9. A day off is good, but if they outnumber our days on, we are just “oversleeping.”
  10. Our present actions or inactions will determine our future.
So the next time we see an ant scurry across the kitchen floor at home, or across our desk at work, would we stop and consider this ant and its ways so that we can be wise.