Spring is now here in full force, and of course with spring comes all the insects and critters preparing for another year. One of the insects that we will unfortunately see crawling all around is the ant. Believe it or not but the Bible teaches us to take a close look at the habits of an ant and how we could learn a lot from them.
In Proverbs 30:25 it tells us that “The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat (food) in the summer;” and also in Proverb:6:6-8 it goes a little deeper into detail saying, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.
Have you ever heard of a Myrmecologist ? (No, it’s not a person that studies “murmuring.”) Myrmecology is the study of ants. I don’t know about devoting one’s whole live to studying the little pests, but I do know that the Bible says to consider their ways. When we do take a look at them we find out that there quite an amazing creature, and there is much wisdom that can be gained from watching them. There are over 10,000 different species of ants. They are able to lift 20 times their own body weight. That means that if a man weighed 200 pounds and had the strength of an ant, he could lift approximately 4,000 pounds! Ants have been found to build structures 500 times their own height. Also, ants have two stomachs, one for storing up food to share with others later, and one for itself. Isn’t that nice of them to be so thoughtful? Unfortunately, the life expectancy of an ant is only 45 to 60 days. Yet these tiny creatures accomplish much in their short life-span. We can learn a lot from an ant.
Have you ever seen a lazy ant? I’ve never seen a live ant just standing still, lying around on the sofa, watching TV, or just doing nothing. There are no “couch potato” ants. They are constantly moving. No moss is growing under their feet.
Ants ain’t quitters! (Excuse the grammar.) You can run over an anthill with a lawn mower, kick it in, or wash it away with a water hose, but before you know it, they’ll build it back! It takes a lot to discourage an ant.
Ants don’t know the meaning of procrastination! They don’t wait until the weather turns cold before they begin to prepare. They gather food while it is still warm and take it into their colony. Many of those who work hard all day will never eat of the food they are preparing because they will die before cold weather comes, but they want to make certain that their families are taking care of even if they are not around. It only makes sense to make sure that our families will be taken care of in the future if something should happen to us. That’s just plain good common sense, and stewardship. They are future oriented, they are not living in the past or just for the present, they are preparing for what lies ahead.
You see, ants understand the value of preparation. Preparation is the difference between success and failure, mediocrity and excellence, average and above average, and could be the difference of where some might spend eternity. Someone once said, “One thing greater than the will to succeed is the will to prepare.” Without preparation, failure is inevitable. Have you ever heard someone being interviewed after an intense and difficult situation such as soldiers, police, firefighters, medics or others in similar professions? Almost invariably when asked about how they knew to do the right thing in that moment, they will reply “I simply relied on my training.”
When it comes to leadership in the church preparation is the key to success. Unfortunately, leaders fall into a stagnant pattern and never grow beyond the lid that is keeping them from becoming all that God has called them to be. Leaders are learners, and when a leader stops learning, they stop leading.
Many fail to realize that God is a God of preparation: He prepared the earth and then filled it, as well as the tabernacle of Moses, he prepared a great fish for Jonah, John the Baptist came to prepare the way for the Christ, Heaven is a prepared place, Jesus said “I go to prepare a place for you…,” Paul said “Eye hath not seen …what God has prepared…,” Jesus came in the fullness of time, in other words God prepared the world for His entrance. God is a God of preparation.
Think about Jesus. He prepared over the course of 3 decades for a ministry that lasted about 3 years. He grew up with a hammer in one hand and a scroll in the other.
Consider the disciples. Jesus spent years of his ministry training 12 men, preparing them and training them for ministry he would give them in the future.
Ponder Paul’s priorities. After Paul’s conversion, he retreated to Arabia (Galatians 1:17). Why? To study and realign his understanding of the Bible with the reality of Jesus as Messiah. Even at the end of Paul’s life, he requested Timothy bring him scrolls to read.
Timothy took up the challenge. Paul urged his protégé to “Study (be diligent) to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
The two men the made the greatest impact in the Old and New Testament were men of preparation and education: They were Moses and the Apostle Paul. The life of Moses had three phases of which each lasted forty years, first, learned he was somebody, then he learned he was a nobody, and lastly he learned what God could do with a nobody. He had forty years of secular education, forty years of learning how to live in the wilderness, and then used those periods of preparation to lead the people through the wilderness for forty years.
The Apostle Paul, had the best secular and religious education, of the two sects of Pharisees that existed at that time, Paul was a part of the stricter of the two, which had the greatest demands. He studied under one of the most respected rabbis, Gamaliel. He to spent time in the wilderness, emptying himself of the Pharisaical spirit and received the revelation of Jesus. Paul did not pitch his education and preparation out the window, he just realigned it in light of who Jesus was. These men were world changers! It all began with preparation for the future.
We can learn a lot from an ant. Preparation is vital to do God’s work. Why do churches and Christian organizations have leadership training and seminars? Why are there so many leadership books and video lessons available? Why, because we need to be prepared for the present and future ministry of reaching those who are without Christ, and then be prepared to teach them to become disciples of Jesus Christ.
The writer is the pastor of Northtowne Church of God in Sidney.