In Lead more gently/ Purpose

What to do with a lazy person

Recently, in my morning devotions, I read  2 Thessalonians 3: 6-15.  It speaks of laziness. As is my habit, I mulled the verses over, chewing on it and allowing the Lord to make this personal for me. It is a wonderfully practical portion of scripture that teaches us that it is really important to recognize lazy people and what to do with them.


According to 2 Thessalonians, there are 3 key ways to recognize a lazy person.  Here is the list along with my editorial comments:

  • They are idle.  Don’t just look for the guy with his feet up on his desk or the girl mooching about reading a magazine. Idle people can look or seem very busy, always running about or on the phone or stuck behind their computer screen. In reality, they are not productive. They regularly flip to their Facebook page, Youtube and other sites and spend work-time socializing, texting, phoning. At the end of a work day they are exhausted but have produced very little.
  • They are disruptive. Lazy people don’t want to actually knuckle down and do any work so, as part of their ruse to seem busy, they will disrupt others. They have endless brainstorming sessions with anybody they can corner, but seldom follow up on their ideas.  They send emails that pass the buck on to somebody else and when they do actually produce some work, it typically needs to be fixed or followed up by somebody else. They love to do business over a meal because it generally helps take up more time and helps them seem busy.
  • They are busybodies.  They are quick to question other people’s judgement, they complain about the management style and the decisions of those above them and they belittle or snitch on their colleagues. They like to find out stuff about people’s private affairs and will publicly announce their findings in seemingly innocent ways.

This portion of scripture also tells us what to do with a lazy person:

  • Confront them.  Beating around the bush and trying to be delicate will not help them or you. They have perfected the dance of side-steppping and redirecting. Scripture teaches us, no, urges us, to tell them to settle down and do some work.
  • Be an example. Model for them what hard work and carrying your share of the load looks like.  Help them see a healthy balance of work, family and leisure.  Don’t let them wear you down and tire you from doing good.
  • Dismiss them.  If you have confronted them and been an example to them and they continue to be idle, disruptive, busybodies, then exclude them from your day (or if you have the authority, you may have to dismiss them from their job).  Verse 10 says that if they don’t work, the outcome will be that they don’t eat.

I know that I certainly have my lazy days. The danger comes when it becomes a way of life. God has a task and a ministry for me (and each one of us) that requires diligence and work to fulfill.

If you feel that you are not fulfilling your purpose ask yourself whether it is because you are lazy. If this is true for you, I urge you to get help. Find somebody who will model a healthy work balance, who will confront you and mentor you. If you ignore it, calamity  is on the way.

I went past the field of a sluggard,
past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
 thorns had come up everywhere,
the ground was covered with weeds,
and the stone wall was in ruins.
 I applied my heart to what I observed
and learned a lesson from what I saw:
A little sleep, a little slumber
 a little folding of the hands to rest —
 and poverty will come on you like a thief
and scarcity like an armed man.
– Proverbs 24: 33-34

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