3 Steps to Overcome Laziness

| June 15, 2017

A Guest Post by Helene Smith

I’ve been lazy before.  Not the “I should probably get up and work but it’s been a busy day and I’m going to play board games with the kids instead” lazy.  The sinful, procrastinating, anxiety-provoked and provoking, let-down-your-friends-and-miss-deadlines lazy.

There! I said it out loud.

And it wasn’t a short-lived lazy either.

As a teenager, I plagued my mother with my stubborn unwillingness to clean my room till she gave up in despair.  I dumped papers in my backpack rather than stick them in the folder. Every time I opened the bag, I felt guilty.  Every time I felt guilty, I put off sorting them out. The night before they were due, I frantically tried to organize them into something I could turn in. I cost myself not only time and worry but a good grade. I’d like to say I only did this once, but that would be a big fat lie.

In college although I did not procrastinate on my school work (much), the chores needed to keep our dorm room functioning were a source of much stress. I managed to find time to study, sleep, play, read, eat, and spend wonderful endless hours swinging on those double swings out on the front-lawn with my soon-to-be husband. But getting my room tidy less than 5 minute before room inspection was impossible.  And I always managed to excuse myself.  In fact, excusing myself became the hallmark of my laziness.

“I’m too tired.”

“My head hurts.”

“I’ve got to do something more important!”

“I’ve got time tomorrow.”

“I’m just scatterbrained.”

These excuses were particularly seductive because in large part they were true at that moment.  It was only in combination that they were starting to ruin my life.

As I became a young wife, mom, and employee, things didn’t get better.  I could tell you all kinds of sad and embarrassing stories (some of which I still literally have nightmares about), but the guilt and shame I suffered a teenager continues to make it hard to tell  the truth about how bad things got.

3 Steps To Overcoming Laziness

Sister, if you are in a similar situation, if just reading this is making you anxiously look around your home at the laundry that has sat there for three days, I want to give you hope.  In no way can I pretend that this isn’t still a temptation for me, but these days I am not lazy the way I was before.  Let me tell you how.

1.) Confess and Repent

I accepted that my laziness was not my circumstances, my personality, or something I could fix on my own. It was a sin.  And sins need to be laid down at the foot of the cross.  They need to be repented of and confessed. The Bible not only made my sin obvious, it made the consequences clear too.

Laziness was hurting my relationships. Work brings deadlines, which I missed, paperwork which I put off, and coworkers who had trouble counting on me. “Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes/So is the lazy one to those who send him” Proverbs 10:26 (NASB).

Laziness was destructive. Ever left clothes too long in the washer and they molded? I have.Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys” (Proverbs 18:9 ESV).

Laziness was hard on my cash flow. Mail used to stack up on my desk. I couldn’t bring myself to open it, so bills were late.

“A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest,
Then your poverty will come as a robber
And your want like an armed man.”
Proverbs 24:33-34 (NASB)

2.) Ask for God’s Help to Overcome

I needed the Holy Spirit’s help.  Galatians 5:22-23 promises us that when the Spirit is at work in our lives, He will produce self-control in us.  I cling to this promise like a life-raft; even when I have no faith in myself I stand on God’s promises.  I know that the Spirit indwells every baptized believer (Acts 2:38). The Helper came to work with us and in us to overcome temptation!

3.) Walk Out Your Faith

I try to help myself.  In every kind of sin there are simple actions that we can take to reduce our temptation.  For me, I need a to-do list everyday.  I try to immediately update my calendar with reminders so that I don’t miss things.  It also helps if I keep to a schedule.  I set my alarm, and by 8:00 a.m. I am working steadily through my list.  I  save activities that are more enjoyable/absorbing for last.  And I am accountable.  When the anxiety starts to grow and I begin to put a task off, I’ll say to my husband, “Babe, ask me at the end of the day if I did…” I don’t need him to chastise me, just knowing that he’ll ask helps me get it done.

Sister, I hope you haven’t been struggling for years that way that I was.  I hope you are at a “I probably shouldn’t watch so much Netflix” level instead of a “I probably should pay the bills before I get another late fee” level.  But regardless I want you to have hope!  God can help us deal with even our most entrenched habits, our most anxiety-producing problems.  He is ready to work in you to banish laziness from your life.

Do you have a story to share about the consequences of your laziness?  This is a safe place to do so.  Do you have tips or verses to share that have helped you as you’ve struggled?  Share so we can encourage one another!

Helene Smith

Helene lives with her husband and daughters in the Wyoming high desert. She has told God’s story through blogging at http://maidservantsofchrist.blogspot.com, leading community and church bible classes, moving abroad then back again, and teaching students two to ninety-two.

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  • Reply Heather Hart June 17, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    Helene, I can so relate to this. I have been there. There needs to be a balance between grace and rest and hard work. It’s not always easy to find, but it’s worth trusting in Jesus for.
    Heather Hart recently posted…Summer Schedules & Jesus

    • Reply Helene June 19, 2017 at 5:09 pm

      Heather, finding that balance can hard especially because I strayed hard in one direction! I try and to think carefully about needs over excuses!

  • Reply Andrea June 19, 2017 at 11:40 am

    Oh I can definitely relate to that – one of the things I’m dealing with

  • Reply Sheila Qualls June 19, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    I’ve been there, too. I never think of things like laziness or overeating as sin. But, they are. It plagues me in certain areas of my life. I have a few things I need to get done right now but keep putting off. Is procrastination is a form of laziness? Sure feels like it. Now, after reading this, I have to act. Some people will be thanking you. : )
    Sheila Qualls recently posted…How to Write a Heartfelt Father’s Day Letter He’ll Never Forget

    • Reply Helene June 19, 2017 at 5:11 pm

      The first time I was brave enough to ask God to shine in my dark places and show me my sin, I saw my laziness. Until then I had 1 million excuses.
      Helene recently posted…The “Why” Matters!

  • Reply Heather June 19, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    I am going to use the advice on asking my husband to hold me accountable for certain things, it will definitely help me to get things done I tend to make excuses for. I naturally cannot function if I am not keeping myself busy and checking off lists lol, but I do have things that I will make excuses to put off.

    • Reply Helene June 26, 2017 at 8:34 am

      Heather, I hope it helps you as much as it helps me! It is harder to excuse myself if I have to do it aloud!
      Helene recently posted…Identity Matters

  • Reply Jennifer DeFrates/Heaven Not Harvard June 19, 2017 at 11:57 pm

    I definitely prefer deep thought to hard physical work, and I try to pray and make sure that I don’t let being still turn into being lazy.
    Jennifer DeFrates/Heaven Not Harvard recently posted…Beating Body Image Issues: Compared to Who?

    • Reply Helene June 26, 2017 at 8:36 am

      Now that’s a lovely thought. There’s a deep difference in being still and being lazy! Being still before the Lord is a place of quietness and rest and I have often found my laziness a restless refusal-really not restful at all!
      Helene recently posted…Identity Matters

  • Reply SHEILA RHODES June 20, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    I don’t care who you are we all have something we have to overcome at some point in our lives. Trust me I am still overcoming some things, but I do know this when I have been honest like you have and asking for accountability it makes a huge difference. Right now my issue is taking time for myself . My husband has required extra care after his surgery and we found out the healing process is going to be slow due to some complications. As his sole caregiver I need to take time so I don’t get angry or resent my role as his wife with all the added responsibilities. God will see us both through! That is the Good News!
    SHEILA RHODES recently posted…A Love Letter to My Dad on Father’s Day

    • Reply Helene June 26, 2017 at 8:37 am

      May God in His grace give your husband healing and you growth in this time of care!
      Helene recently posted…Identity Matters

  • Reply Patricia June 22, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    Great post with practical easy to implement solutions! Thank you so very much for sharing!

  • Reply Alice Walters June 26, 2017 at 11:29 am

    Helene, wow, what honesty! Two personal cautions about laziness: being critical instead of helpful to someone who seems to be lazy, and falsely perceiving laziness in ourselves or others. Love your tips, lists and frequently assessing priorities can make a differences. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Linda @ Home Cooking June 28, 2017 at 6:15 am

    Thank you for sharing. You have a lovely blog.

  • Reply Marsha Lynn February 25, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    Hello Helen and thank you for this place to seek help. I have progressively become lazier and lazier . I work a very stressful job 5 days a week. So when the weekend arrives , I don’t want to do anything . No house work, laundry, or go anywhere . It has affected my church life because I just find myself sleeping in late on sat. and sun mornings and could care less about going anywhere . I feel like a lazy sloth . I love God , I pray . But, I just don’t want to do anything . : ( . Thank you for listening .

  • Reply Cydnee March 26, 2018 at 6:43 pm

    This is so encouraging! I have been really dealing with this lately! It’s effecting those around me!

  • Reply Elaine Grant April 10, 2018 at 12:30 am

    Procrastinating seems to tie in with laziness. I know sometimes I deliberately put off those things that are not enjoyable or are stress points. Moving from our comfort zone is hard sometimes especially when we delve into that comfort to hide from the difficulties of life. In the long run its a faith issue because we aren’t trusting in the one who can give us the strength and soundness of mind to be able to move forward and organize our lives.

  • Reply Emily A. Sullivan April 11, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    I had saved this post on one of my pinterest boards to read later, and just came back to it today because I am at a near meltdown struggling over this. I too, did all of the same things you mentioned above when I was in school, and then college came and I was pretty much the exact same way you described yourself! Now I’m a new wife (married for 9 months) and I am so buried in shame over my lack of abilities to just do the simplest tasks. Literally everything feels exhausting, even taking the trash bag out of the garbage can when it’s full and replacing it. Even putting in a load of laundry. Even hanging up clothes when I’m done wearing them. Cooking and grocery shopping gives me severe anxiety (for A LOT of reasons, and i’m currently working through those specifically). I’m always completely wiped out and tired for no reason at all, even when I’ve gotten a decent amount of sleep, and I haven’t really had an overly busy work day. So things pile up and pile up, and my home is so cluttered that it causes extreme overwhelm, and even more exhaustion (vicious cycle). I tried to tackle it a couple of weeks ago but I couldn’t get started because of the shame and disappointment in myself and in the state I was allowing us to live in because I just can’t get my act together. My husband takes care of the bills and finances, which is so helpful (he knows how panicked I get over that too, so he handles that). So I feel like nothing should really be hindering me from doing what needs to be done around the house.
    I also know what it is to let down other people in my life. I had to “pass the torch” at my dance studio to another instructor who could handle it all better than I could. I love teaching choreography, but my productions fell apart quickly. I couldn’t keep all with all the behind the scenes and the business side of things. Nothing got done efficiently. There was a lot of miscommunication due to me forgetting a lot of things or neglecting to communicate…so the result was a lot of very upset and disappointed parents. The studio lost a lot of families this semester after an especially difficult Christmas production in December. I’m fine with stepping back from my director position…it’s actually a relief in so many ways and it was the right choice…but I am just so tired of letting people down. In pretty much every area of my life.
    Even as a singer working towards pursing a masters degree in music, I don’t practice nearly as much as I should, due to being tired (again, even for no reason at all), or simply not making it a priority and forgetting, so I often get to my rehearsals unprepared and feeling so embarrassed. I hate that my lack of discipline in every other area in my life spills over into the one thing I love to do most, singing.
    This post was super helpful, as hard as it was for me to recognize myself in it. I had never thought of this struggle as being a sin before. I guess I knew one of the “7 deadly sins” is sloth, but I hadn’t given it a second thought before. I know my work ethic is just awful, and my brain just can’t keep track of anything and is easily scattered…but I thought of it as being part of my personality and a flaw that I couldn’t fix. You’re right, sin is meant to be laid down at the cross, and I do believe that the Lord can take this mentality from me, and help me overcome it. I don’t have a lot of faith in my own abilities…I’ve been this way for far too long…but I know it’s not about my own abilities. It’s about the strength of the Holy Spirit and him working through me.
    Yikes! Sorry for the long response, ha! But I was so glad to find someone I could fully identify with, and to whom I could open up. I was convinced there was NO ONE in the world who struggled with this worse than me! And I have truly come to a low point with it.

    • Reply Heather Hart April 12, 2018 at 8:14 am

      Emily, I just wanted to let you know that I could totally relate to your comment. This has always been an issue for me. From not hanging up my clothes to dropping the ball professionally, I get you. I try to remember that God loves me and is gracious when I do fail, without letting that be an excuse for continuing in laziness. I may never find a balance, but I’ve learned that as long as I keep my focus on Jesus, the shame is less, and I’m more willing to press on.
      Heather Hart recently posted…Hope For When You Feel Emotionally Alone

      • Reply Sdoo June 20, 2019 at 8:46 am

        This resonated with me so much..I have reached a low point to and I would give anything to overcome laziness!

  • Reply Jessica September 6, 2018 at 11:02 am

    I am going through this now. We have just gotten out of summer vacation and it is hard for me to get out of this lazy slump. The hardest part for me is getting out of bed. I love being active, so I don’t like sitting on my bottom all day it’s just so hard to get up and get started lately.

  • Reply tiffany Montgomery December 31, 2018 at 8:02 pm

    I find I get lazy about marriage more than anything else. Crazy how that area gets shifted to autopilot. It’s just wrong and causes so many problems. So excited to apply these principles to help there.
    tiffany Montgomery recently posted…How To Set Goals in a Christian Marriage and Why

  • Reply Jessamy January 16, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    Even as a child I was lazy. I’m now a 31 year old mother of 5 kids and I am 60 pounds overweight and absolutely miserable all because I am just lazy. I want to over come this so bad, it’s absolutely the hardest thing I have ever tried to do. For too long I have let down my children, my husband, not kept up our home or bills. I can’t keep a job, blaming on it needing to care for my kids and home more but I don’t do it. I just get lazier. I put too much responsibility on my husband and he is so tired and overwhelmed. I’m going to start praying these verses right now and trying harder. Thank you for your honesty and encouragement

    • Reply Heather Hart January 16, 2019 at 4:05 pm

      Oh Jessamy, I can relate all too well. And I know when we try harder on our own we just end up discouraged and end up hating ourselves more. But I am so thankful for the One who died so we could be forgiven, even when our own sinful habits are to blame. And with His help, we can rise above. Praying for you today.
      Heather Hart recently posted…Confessions, Faith, Struggles, Failures, and Hope… Oh My!

  • Reply Susan Evans January 28, 2019 at 2:48 pm

    A to-do list is definitely helpful in getting out of a lazy slump where you’re not motivated to get anything done.
    Susan Evans recently posted…Surprised by a Pirate (a true story)

  • Reply Candia Marie Klug February 7, 2019 at 2:32 pm

    This was so needed today. Seeing your picture, I’m clearly older than you and I definitely fall into the category you didn’t want me to. Thank you for writing this. Thank you for walking el through the steps and giving me pointers.
    You’re Never to old to learn and there’s nothing God can’t help with.
    Thanks again

  • Reply Mellisca March 6, 2019 at 7:36 am

    I really really battle with a spirit of laziness and it’s costing me everything, I have no money, my business doesn’t work because I don’t. I’ve confessed and repented of this so much and I ask God for help to overcome it, but nothing changes no matter how much I ask, I’m so bound by this spirit of laziness, I actually irritate myself, I don’t think I’ve ever met another person who can sleep and do nothing as much as I can. Please please pray for me, I’m desperate for this to change:(

  • Reply Ashley March 15, 2019 at 10:42 pm

    It’s so refreshing to know that I’m not the only one. This post could have easily been about me. I am currently unemployed due to my laziness and the anxiety that came because of it. I want to be better. But it’s really difficult because I was never given responsibilities as a child. I know that isn’t an excuse, but it’s hard to teach old dogs new tricks. I use the term “old” loosely. I am 30 years old. I will try to put these things into practice. It’s time to change. Thank you for your candidness and transparency. It makes me feel that maybe it’s not too late.

  • Reply Dee May 24, 2019 at 4:36 am

    Goodness! This is spiritual?????????????????????? I have been lazy since I was a child and now it is has spilled over into adulthood. The sad part now is that my 14 y/o is picking up those habits as well! I have been cleaning my home for the past 3 days, just so I will not be ashamed to call my landlord in to fix a problem that desperately needs his attention!

    Please pray!


    • Reply Heather Hart May 24, 2019 at 1:04 pm

      Praying for you today, Dee. I’ve been there, too. I hated renting because I was always terrified we’d get kicked out because of my horrible housekeeping skills. Please know that you aren’t alone, and no matter what, you are loved by Jesus.
      Heather Hart recently posted…I Was Absolutely Chrushin’ The Christian Life

  • Reply Bridget June 4, 2019 at 5:51 am

    This was excellent and what my lazy Christian self needed! Thank you and God bless

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