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  • Dr. Stieglitz

Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 20:4

Proverbs 20:4

"The sluggard does not plow after the autumn, so he begs during the harvest and has nothing"

The word sluggard is the standard Hebrew word for lazy or sluggish 'asel; one who is slow, enjoys ease and not work. This proverb is fascinating because it talks about the sluggard’s unwillingness to do something a year ahead that causes him to have nothing to eat.

After harvest in the fall of the year, the farmers needed to plow under the remains of the harvest so that the winter would allow the nutrients to be put back into the soil. It was essential preparation for the next year's harvest for the farmer to till or plow under the remnants of this year's harvest. The lazy person sees this as too much work and waits to do it until he feels like it. It seems too far away and disconnected to eating next year. But because of his unwillingness to do essential things eleven months ahead, the harvest of the lazy person is less than is needed; and they have to ask for food when their weak harvest comes in.

This is a valuable lesson. Sometimes the key to your success is a small detail that you are willing to do which will not pay any dividends for months or even years. There is, at present, about a $20,000-$40,000 salary gap between those who graduate from college and those who have only a high school diploma. This means that four years of writing seemingly impractical papers and reading boring books translates into a $20,000-$40,000 a year difference in salary every year for forty years.

I am not saying that only those who go to college apply this principle. There are many long-range, diligence issues that increase a person's ability to have what they need to live. This applies to weight control, vacation planning, financial planning, extra certifications at work, community involvement, etc.

In the same way, diligence on a small opportunity allows a person to be ready to close a sale or invent a new product or receive a promotion. One cannot underestimate the importance of diligence. The lazy person is unwilling to work hard on things that don't have an immediate payoff. They keep telling themselves that if someone offered them a million dollars to do a particular chore, they would do it. But that is not how anyone gets a million dollars. One earns a living by doing the little things well and being rewarded for one’s labor.

When someone who knows tells you that a certain detail needs to be done at a certain point to accomplish the final product months or years later, then don't shy away from that work.

I constantly tell my girls that the work you put in this ten-year period will pay off in the next ten-year period – whether that is junior high and high school grades allowing college entrance; whether that is college diligence allowing jobs; whether that is job performance allowing promotions, etc. In fact, right now I am investing lots of time, energy, money, and prayer in my relationships with my girls during this ten-year period so I have years of wonderful harvest of love and joy with them for the rest of our lives and on into eternity. Will the time be worth it? Yes. Will the sacrifice seem insignificant in twenty years? YES.

Don't be lazy; put the time into the right things and it will pay off.

What can you do today that will have a payoff in a year to five years?

Is there anything that I am avoiding doing because it doesn't seem to matter, but I know or have been told it is crucial to my future success?

Until tomorrow,

Gil Stieglitz

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