An Unwelcome Relative

An Unwelcome Relative

“Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.”

Proverbs 18:9

When I was a young mother trying to manage home, ministry and family, I called my wise older sister in the States and asked what the secret was to getting it all done and doing it well.  I thought, “Surely there is a trick I’m missing here.”  Laura said the most helpful thing to me.

“Jan, it’s just a lot of hard work.”

That statement was strangely comforting to me.  Comforting in that I wasn’t missing some secret that everyone else was in on.  And comforting because I knew the value of what I was working for and hard work seemed a fair price to pay for an orderly home, a peaceful marriage, a meaningful ministry and children raised to see Christ at work in our home.

Earlier this year we talked about the daily choice we have as women when it comes to our household – we can Build it Or Break It (You might want to go back and read that one if you’ve signed on more recently.)  What we didn’t discuss was the middle ground between those two options – that of doing nothing. Not actively destroying but not actively building either.  And there was a good reason for that.

It’s because God has not given the wise woman this option.

That’s what I wanted to talk to you about today.  Proverbs 18:9 tells us that “Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.”  Meaning if we are lazy women, we’re closer relatives to destructive women than we may have realized.  If we breathed a sigh of relief after that earlier post, but tend toward laziness, we’re not off the hook yet.  The Bible teaches that we are kin to the destroying woman.  Birds of a feather.  Cut from the same cloth.  Laziness and active destruction look different on the surface, but laziness can be ultimately as destructive to a home – it just takes longer.

Simply put:  Laziness is destruction delivered on an installment plan.

Have you ever thought about it that way?  Take a look at your relationships, your yard, your kitchen, your level of wisdom, your eyebrows or your health: Have you encountered anything in this life that improves or grows in beauty when left to itself?  I haven’t.  In every case, the natural outcome is decline.  Neglecting or slacking in our work is not a neutral choice.  It is a missed opportunity to build something great in our homes and is an invitation for Laziness to introduce its slow decay.

Admittedly, it’s easier to do what’s easy.

  • It’s easier to pile than file.
  • It’s easier to sleep than study.
  • It’s easier to peruse more ideas than implement the ones I already have.
  • It’s easier not to bother than to complete that extra task that will help my guy.
  • It’s easier to relax a little longer than clean, cook & manage my space.
  • It’s easier to procrastinate than initiate.
  • It’s easier to react than prepare.
  • It’s easier to move on to something more interesting than fully finish the present task.

But with each of these choices, we invite Destruction’s kid brother into our homes.  And when Laziness comes to stay, we permit the slow collapse of beauty, peace, order, excellence and effectiveness.

If you find this unwelcome relative has been loitering in your home too long, perhaps today is the day you show him to the door.


  1. Glen

    I think I’ll read this a little bit later.

  2. Simon Bois

    I thought this one was about me specifically! I thought “oh boy … better hold my breath now!” What a relief I felt after reading! 😉

  3. Hannah

    Was that eyebrows comment directed at me? Subtle, Janet. Very subtle. 😉

    Love you and I love this. Good, good stuff.

  4. Cindy Reid

    Nicely put Janet.
    Too many feel that it is better to do nothing, than do something. As a parent it’s sometimes easier to not “deal” with problems in …your marriage, with your kids, etc. than to deal with them, as it usually involves messy confrontations that tend to destroy all that are involved if left unresolved.
    For me, if I leave stuff unresolved, whether a math question, a difficulty with a parent at work, or with my own family it eats me up inside until it is dealt with. I’ve learned that the easiest way to sleep at night, and have that peace we’ve been promised is to never put off the difficult discussions, the laundry either!

  5. Amy

    Laziness and procrastination are huge struggles for me. I always say ” I work better under pressure”, but secretly envy women who have structured lives and actually stick to their daily plans. When I do get out of bed and have a productive day, man does it ever feel good! So why can’t I seem to keep it up for more than one day at a time? Thank you for the encouragement to confess this as sin and avoid the slow destruction in my family/home, motivating me that even in this I can be “transformed by the renewing of my mind”. Here is my question – I end up spending so much time trying to find better ways to be organized that I waste the time I have! Any suggestions on ways to better manage time for daily tasks?

    • Janet

      Hi Amy – I am glad this was encouraging! I think we’re all in the same boat. It’s hard work that requires intentional decisions and we don’t want to give our families less than best, but the actual “doing” can be elusive! I’m not an organizational expert, but here are a few things that have helped me: 1. As a young bride, I was shaped by some practical tips from A Woman After God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George. Her biblical philosophies, tips and practical phrases have stuck with me. 2. Around that same time, an older lady introduced me to a little book by Emilie Barnes called Simply Organized that helped out as well. Now, there are probably tons more resources out there now that are more current, but I think the thing to do is find a few idea/systems that work for your life, fully adopt them and then stop looking for more as this can just take more time. I’ve picked up tips from people along the way when I hear a good idea that I know will work for me or see it in action in an older, wiser woman. 3. I make sure my schedule doesn’t get too busy. Though we have short spurts of fuller seasons, we systematically fight our culture’s proneness to busy-ness because it’s not good for us and I can’t keep life peaceful and orderly if we are always on the run and seldom home. 4. I try to see home management from a biblical perspective – that I have been charged with the primary responsibility of setting the mood & tone of our home and I want to be a blessing to my family and be able to extend biblical hospitality to people in our community & in our church which I can’t do if there is little order & preparedness in my home. 5. I invest more time in having a tidy/orderly home than a clean one. As long as things get back to their place, laundry is away & dishes are done, the house can seem peaceful & welcoming, even if the floors aren’t spotless. I get to the cleaning when I can & need to, but keeping things orderly goes a long way in setting a welcoming mood. 6. I’ve memorized a few verses that help me keep my perspective: Ecc. 9:10, Prov. 14:1, Prov. 31:27, Prov. 15:19 (I’ll probably address this one soon on the blog.) 7. I apply the economics term “opportunity cost” to time management: “What is the best alternative use for this time that I am giving up to do what I”m doing?” Meaning, I look at what tasks/relational activities I could be doing instead of wasting time on media and realize that I’d rather invest my time in something that gives me something to show for the time after I’ve spent it. 8. I’ve cut out foods that I know make me tired, cranky & lethargic. 9. I get up early to prepare my heart and maybe a few household tasks before my children wake up. 10. I live with the reality that I will answer to God for the time, family, home and things he’s enabled me to manage.

      Hope that helps! That’s what has worked for me. 🙂



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