Monday, January 7, 2013

Go to the ant

Compared to their size ants have the biggest brains of all animals. Yet we barely take any notice of them, except when they turn up in plague proportions and we try to eradicate them!

There are two verses in the Bible where God uses ants to teach us some valuable lessons. Proverbs 30:24-25 tells us that ants are extremely wise, have little strength, yet store up their food in the summer. Proverbs 6:6-8 also tells us that ants are wise and store provisions in summer plus they have no commander or overseer.

Ants are wise because they understand if you do small amounts on a regular basis you will end up accomplishing a lot. They don’t need someone to tell them what to do or coach them from the sidelines. It seems the coming winter is motivation enough.

Once I worked at a university library which bought some new shelving. The new shelving was added to the end of each row which meant a large number of books had to be moved so the Dewey numbers ran in order. It was going to be a huge task and I wondered how we would ever get it done. However five of us spent an hour a day and after six weeks the books were moved. Like the ant doing a little often gets the job done.

Most prolific writers will tell you they aim to write a certain number of words per day. For example Stephen King aims to write 2,000 words a day so after 100 days he has a book 200,000 words long. When I read this some years ago my goal was to write a book of 50,000 words. I suddenly realized I only needed to write 1,000 words a day for 50 days. Suddenly it seemed achievable. (Though the re-writing is another story!) Whether the goal is to write a book, read a book, or something physical like getting fit or eating healthier, the trick is to do a little, but do it often.

Unfortunately though we are often unwilling to make the small changes or take on the small tasks because they don’t seem to be significant. We tend to opt for the ‘quick fix.’ We get impatient when we don’t see immediate or measurable results. At such time we need to "Go to the ant … consider its ways and be wise!” (Proverbs 6:6). As we make small incremental changes in our lives they can add up to a considerable differences over time.


Susan Barnes likes to write inspirational articles, book reviews, and reflections on Bible passages and regularly blogs at:


  1. Yes, looking at the whole job makes it become a mountain. Writing a book is a very patient and persevering job, two things I always really need.

  2. Hi Susan. Great post. It's so true. Every task is do-able when broken up into small sections. I find I've written enough for a book in my FB statuses - posted over 3 years - 154,516 words! Wow! Definitely the same principal. :)

    Thanks for your words of hope and encouragement.
    Happy New Year,

  3. A good reminder Susan. Thanks for that. (I can write that book this year!)

  4. Hello Susan, Its a pleasure to meet you and read your wisdom.
    Thank you for helping to make something that can seem a trial, be an endeavour... I am going to take that on board. Happy Successful New Year to you.

  5. just what I needed Susan ! I'm stuck on rewriting at the moment...

  6. Break it down into bite sized pieces - that's how I like it. :)

  7. Good reminder Susan. Thanks.

  8. I often use a similar idea when encouraging my kids to clean their rooms (which somehow end up looking like total disasters and overwhelmingly huge tasks!). I say, "Look, you don't have to clean your whole room. You just have to put one thing away. Well done! Now put one more thing away! Great! etc" Sometimes doing a few little things is a lot easier than one huge thing!
    Thanks for this practical post, Susan.

  9. Thanks everyone for your comments.