There was a phrase used in this week’s lesson that I had never heard of before. It was “Slack Hand” and the definition was laziness. It is also defined as idleness; carelessness; inefficiency; or sloth. Obviously not a word we would want used to describe us.
It got me to thinking about work ethic, specifically my work ethic. How did I get my work ethic? Where did it come from? My Mom & Dad were great examples of a good work ethic. But for me it went a little farther back to my Grandfather, my Mom’s dad, the man I called “Pappaw.”
His given name was Luther Armstrong. But everybody called him Luke. He was born in 1906 and managed to make it all the way through the 4th grade before having to go to work to help support his family. Not an uncommon occurrence for that period of time.
By the time I came along he was approaching his 60’s. At that time he worked the graveyard shift at Hayes Aircraft located at the Birmingham Airport. He was a maintenance man but me being a kid, I told everyone he worked on airplanes. He was always doing something. He had a big garden in the back yard, he fished every chance he could, he did some hunting, he would toss the football or baseball with me and he would cut his own grass.
“A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” Proverbs 10:4 (ESV).
I know you’re probably thinking, “So what?” A lot of people do that. That’s nothing special. And you would be correct. Except for me it was something special and a little out of the ordinary. My Pappaw wasn’t like everybody else’s grandfather. Mine had a wooden leg. That’s right. His left leg was a wooden leg. Before I was born he lost his leg in a mining accident in a coal mine. But you would never know it by how active and hardworking he was.
Now it goes without saying that having a wooden leg provided a great source of humor. How many kids could talk there grandfather into sticking a pocket knife in their leg? That would always freak out my friends and upset my grandmother because she would have to sew the hole closed in his good work pants. He would fearlessly kill snakes, telling me the snake had a 50/50 shot at making a really bad choice. A friend he spent a great deal of time fishing with would tell the story about the time he (Pappaw) handed a game warden his leg when asked if he had a fishing license.
I’ll never forget the joy it brought to help him pull that leg off every morning he came home from work. It was a much simpler time back then, no cable TV or video games. And finally, I will never forget seeing his leg and teeth in the bathroom. One grandfather, some assembly required.
“One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.” Proverbs 18:9 (NIV).
He was anything but lazy, anything but a slack hand. Maybe he had reason to be. But from what I remember of him and the example he set, that never crossed his mind. Nor should it cross ours.
What is our work ethic like? What is our work ethic concerning the Gospel like? Are we true followers of Christ if we work tirelessly at our jobs but decide to let others do the work of the Kingdom?
We have all heard stories or maybe know someone who is physically and mentally able to work but has chosen to take the easy road of doing nothing. Would we consider that a slack hand? What about someone who has that same attitude in church? Or has taken that same attitude with their families?
Granted, we can let the pendulum swing too far the other way and become workaholics. This can have just as negative an effect as being lazy. The key is to find balance.
“For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.’ 2 Thessalonians 3:10 (NIV).
Scripture is clear about the consequences of being a “Slack Hand.” We should seek to set a good work ethic at home, work and at church. You never know who you may be influencing.
Lazy believers can’t run to the cross!