“Take a lesson from the ant…learn from their ways and become wise.” Proverbs 6v6
In my daily prayer times this week, my bible notes have been encouraging me to think about what key lessons we human beings can learn from the life of the humble ant! I can’t repeat everything I have read, but here are a few facts I think you might enjoy:
A leaf-cutting ant may carry up to fifty times its own weight more than a hundred yards. That’s the equivalent of a two-hundred-pound man carrying five tons on his back for seventeen miles!
In a single summer, a large colony of ants may excavate thirty to forty thousand pounds of earth to make a nest and carry five thousand pounds of material back into the nest for food!
An ant can make as many as four round trips a day to food sources that may be more than four hundred feet from the nest. That’s roughly equivalent to a person walking sixty-eight miles!
If the ant had the stride of a man, it would be capable of bursts of speed in excess of sixty-five miles an hour and would walk normally at a speed of twenty miles per hour!
Ants have no ruler to make them work, but they work for the colony all summer, gathering food for the winter.
While the queen ant is the centre of attention and the mother of most of the ants in the colony, she’s not the chief ruler. The work and survival of the colony is insured by ‘soldier’ ants. These servant-leaders are older ants that begin each new activity in the colony by doing the work themselves.
The lessons of the ant? Well firstly, and most obviously, that it is a good thing to work hard, not for self-gain, but for the benefit of our whole community. Secondly, that whilst we might be tempted at times to not do work ourselves, we are all called to set a good example by working hard, perhaps especially leaders and those who are older so that those who are younger will follow suit.
Is there anything not to learn from the ant?! It might sound obvious, but we must remember that whilst it is of course good to work hard (“In all labour there is profit” Proverbs 14v23; “Lazy people are soon poor; hard workers get rich.” Proverbs 10v4), we are not ants, but human beings. We are not made to work all the time, but to also rest: to enjoy ourselves, to enjoy others and to enjoy God and his creation.
In summary, the lesson from the ant for those who might be a little on the ‘laid back’ side – work harder!
The lesson from the ant for those people who might work too much and be ‘workaholics’ – have a rest!
So, as we approach the summer holidays do have a good rest unlike ants, who I am sure won’t be taking any time off just because it is August! However, when back in September, do remember the ants and their great work ethic!
With my prayers and blessings for resting in August and working in September
Revd James Hunt – Rector St Peter’s Bishops Waltham and Blessed Mary Upham
1st August 2018