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The Wisdom of Ants


 Today’s Wisdom Literature takes a snippet from Proverbs 6.  Solomon, recognised as the Wisest man among those born of women, was a Naturalist.  He drew much Divine Inspiration from Nature, and here is one of my favourite lessons.

6 Go to the ant, you sluggard; 
consider its ways and be wise! 
7 It has no commander, 
no overseer or ruler, 
8 yet it stores its provisions in summer 
and gathers its food at harvest.

The Ant truly has many lessons for us in this day and age.  So many of us have ‘no commander, no overseer or ruler’ – and rightfully don’t want one.  But such ‘freedom’ is a two-edged sword.  With one side we cut our own broad swathe through life – feeling energised, motivated, and liberated.  Yet the other side demands of us discipline, diligence, and the foresight to manage our own affairs.  The latter can be a drudge – and there is no escape from the responsibility.  So what sustains the ant to ‘store its provisions in summer’ that it may then ‘gather its food at harvest’?

I would like to say ‘Vision’ – and ‘an understanding of seed time and harvest’, but i suspect that ants don’t think in terms of such constructs.  We are not ants, however, and the concepts of ‘Vision’ and ‘The Seed Principle’ are useful for us.  On my time management programme, we talk about having, “a place for everything, and everything in its place” as a means to peace of mind and positive workflow.  The Ant shows us another aspect, having, “a time for everything, and everything in its time”.  This is echoed in Ecclesiastes when it says, “For everything, there is a Season…”

What lessons shall we take away today?

Amongst them could be:

  • 1  lay aside provisions that you will need once the growing season of abundance is over – jam for tomorrow
  • 2  is like no.1 – the principle of deferred gratification that is at the heart of sustainable societies (and businesses)
  • 3  intrinsic motivation – being a self-starter, rather than extrinsic motivation – waiting for someone else to give you a shove or encouragement.

Nehemiah, the Governor of Jerusalem in a time of conflict, is my kind of man of faith.  His concept was to trust in the Lord… and double the guard!  This may lay behind the half-truth that, “the Lord helps those who help themselves”.  [I say 'half-truth' because I do believe the Lord and good humans help those who are in no position to help themselves.]  Having faith means working harder, not sitting back like a sluggard!  Go to the ant any time you feel like being sluggardly, and then take that next physical action step towards pursuing your goals.