Lessons Learned from an “ANT FARM”

“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider her ways and be wise!–    Which, having no chief, overseer, or ruler,    Provides her food in the summer and gathers her supplies in the harvest.    How long will you sleep, O sluggard?  When will you arise out of your sleep?  Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to lie down and sleep–   So will your poverty come like a robber or one who travels [with slowly but surely approaching steps] and your want like an armed man [making you helpless]”  (Proverbs 6:6-11 AMP).


I was about the age of 11 or 12 when a trade opportunity I couldn’t pass up was before me.  A buddy wanted to trade me an ANT FARM for an old baseball mitt.  And without any thoughts of negative reactions from my parents…I couldn’t refuse!  This was a “no brain er.”

After the trade, my elation began turning to “what if…?’  What if mom or dad said, “You’re not going to keep ANTS in your bedroom, period!”  Well, that wasn’t exactly what was said.  Mom politely said, “Mel, if you are going to have an ANT FARM, you are going to have to keep it outside in the garage.” 

My immediate reaction was definitely not a positive one, but the alternative was worse.  So I began reading in books about ANT FARMS and about ANTS in general.  Did you know that ANTS are known to be the smartest species of insects with over 250,000 brain cells?  I would intently watch them every chance I had during the summer as they seemed to be so intense; busily go back in forth through the grains of sand, industrious in their doing.  And then one day as I brought the ANT FARM into the patio laying on top of a brick wall, it happened.  The ANT FARM fell off the wall onto the concrete slab and shattered, ANTS scurrying everywhere.  At that exact moment I looked up at the back screen door of the house and there standing with a smile on her face…was mom.  She didn’t say a thing, just a big smile and then turning around to go back inside, she said softly “I hope you learned something here.”  “Learn about what,” I thought.


It is reassuring to see how our God can even take the smallest creatures in His creation to teach us all a LESSON; in His provision and our role in making  provision for ourselves and working in the kingdom of God.

As we go about our daily lives, often we overlook powerful lessons learned from God’s creation.  One such incident is found in this passage of the Book of Proverbs.

“You Lazy FOOL, Look at the ANT” [House] ~ Proverbs 6:6 THE MESSAGE:

It will serve us well to EXAMINE the HABIT of the ANTS and see what we can LEARN as we “LOOK” at the ANT.  After all, the Word of God tells us to “go to the ant”; go check them out, see what they do, how they do it, and LEARN all you can.

ANTS may be the smallest insects on earth, yet they have LEARNED to build “cities” under the earth and survived since the Creation.  They’ve done so in DOING THINGS that come to them by instinct.


It is nearly impossible to stop them from spreading all over your lawn.  They are always at every picnic, even without an engraved invitation or a A.R.B.A P. (ANTS RESPOND BEFORE ATTENDING PICNIC!).  ANTS just show up!

ANTS are some of the most industrious creatures on earth!  Have you ever seen a LAZY ANT?  When had had my child-hood ANT FARM for a short time, I never saw a ANT just standing still, lying around on a sofa, watching TV, or just doing nothing.  There are no “couch potato” ANTS!  They are constantly moving, carrying not only their own share of the load, but many are known to carry hundred times their own body weight with relative ease.  Oh that we could find enough Christians who were just WILLING to shoulder their part of the load.  Much less to carry the load for a 100 other Christians.  There are a few of these kind of workers in the church, but very few and I have probably been one many times.

One thing we ALL must realize, God didn’t create us to sit around and DO NOTHING!  We were created for WORK; to BUILD, to GROW, to continually LEARN to work and build  more.


“And on the seventh day God ended HIS WORK which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all HIS WORK which He had done”  (Genesis 2:2).

God set for us His example of working and industriousness which are the very character and nature of God.

Many of us say in the morning “Oh no, it’s morning already!”  What we should be saying is, “thank God for another day to do His work!”

WORK is a BLESSING and not a CURSE and what could we accomplish today in putting forth some effort?


Most of us are known by the work that we do; secretaries, accountants, construction worker, electricians, students, homemakers, electronic technicians, computer repair people, programmers and the list goes on.

A lot of people who don’t know your name but they IDENTIFY who you are by the WORK that you do.


You don’t think that statement is true?  Consider for a moment these statistics from the Social Security Administration (S.S.A.):

“The average lifespan of people after retirement from their lifelong work…only 18 months.” 

WHY?  It might be because after they retire LIFE loses a lot of its ZEST.  It’s like they can’t wait to leave their WORK, just to do nothing at all.  The word RETIREMENT is never referred to or mentioned in Scripture.  People have come up to me after church and asked me if I was RETIRED.  I simply say, “No, I’m just in between jobs right now. Always looking though.”

There has to be something out there to replace your WORK; a hobby, some charity work, something…to peak your interest.  Years ago in San Diego, California I was a good friend with a retired plumber.  We were both in a similar field of occupation; he a plumber and I, sold plumbing supplies.  After he officially retired I asked him what he was going to do with his life now, travel, sit in his front porch rocker?  Willard explain to me “he would die if he just sat around.”  He wanted to get involved in a ministry of some sort.  Three months after, Will collected excess bread a t bakeries and grocery stores and took the bounty across the border to ‘cardboard city’ in Tijuana, Mexico.  No retirement for him!

Ecclesiastes 9:10 says,  “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for there is no WORK or device or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol (the place of the dead), where you are going.”

That means that GOD EXPECTS US TO WORK in every area of our lives.  Just as though we are WORKERS for Him.  Because we ARE WORKING FOR HIM!

“But let every person careful scrutinize and examine and test his own conduct and his own WORK.  He can then have the personal satisfaction and joy of doing something commendable [in itself alone] without [resorting to] boastful comparison with his neighbor”  (Galatians 6:4 AMP).

EVERYTHING we do reflects on our christian character.


No one has to watch over ANTS to make sure they are doing their job.  An ANT doesn’t have to punch a time clock for his work never ends.  Sound familiar mothers?

An ANT doesn’t worry about how much he’s getting paid; because all the other ANTS are doing their part too.  The NEEDS of the colony WILL be met!  Come on church, are we observing the ANTS?

No one has to watch over the ANTS to make sure they are doing their job.  They don’t have to punch a time clock and their work, like a mother, never ends.

ANTS never worry about how much he’s getting paid as other ants are doing their part too!  The NEEDS of the COLONY will be met!

Looking Back At That Ant Colony.

If you ever own a ANT FARM, or even watched closely at an ANT HILL in your backyard, we can see it takes HARD WORK, STRICT DISCIPLINE on the part of EVERY ANT  to see the ANT COLONY survive.

The WORKER Ants:

They can’t go on strike because they don’t get paid more than the other workers.

The QUEEN Ant:

She can’t REFUSE to do her WORK or the whole colony dies.

Those ANTS Who Dig Channels and Tend To The Eggs In the Nest:

Each of these ANTS have a specific job to do and it takes ALL of them, WORKING TOGETHER to get the job done.


Teamwork is a necessary part of OUR WORK for the Lord too.  There are NO unimportant people in the Church.  Even those who WON’T or DON’T carry their part of the work load are STILL IMPORTANT.  But they would be even MORE IMPORTANT by just putting their shoulder to the wheel when they are needed.


Motivational seminars won’t ever help ANTS to move because they are too busy to need motivation.  I never saw an ANT in a colony, standing along a trail every few inches, with prod in hand making others to keep moving.  They just keep MOVING because they are ‘”self-motivated” by an inward strength of SURVIVAL.

There is nothing harder in the world than try to MOTIVATE someone who is unmotivated.  If you have or had a teenager and tried to get them to work when they don’t want to?  Have you ever tried to MAKE YOURSELF go outside in the wet weather, to do some weeding in your garden beds, or rake the leaves?


BUT…people aren’t ANTS!  We don’t LIVE just on instincts of survival like they do.  We are able to think, to reason, to change our lives and circumstances to make life a lot easier; for ourselves and our family.

Personally, I think sometimes about making lives easier can be detrimentive to the growth of others around us and our own well being.  The SPARE TIME we create, if it isn’t used for something productive, becomes a road block to our path to success.  Because…it tends to make us THINK we can just sit down and do nothing but rest.  Rest IS GOOD, don’t get me wrong here.  I’m just saying, the more that you rest, the more you need to rest.  The more you SLEEP, the more you need sleep.  The less you WORK, the less you want to work.

PROVERBS 6:9 – “How long will you sleep, O sluggard?  When will you arise out of your sleep.”

PROVERBS 20:13 – “Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes and you will be satisfied with bread.”

God calls those who LOVE SLEEP, “sluggards”.  That’s a pretty good description!  There isn’t a more “sluggish” time a day after I  have a daily afternoon nap and first open my eyes.  Why do I take afternoon naps?  Because I feel sluggish.

I’ll leave it there until I pick it up again with PART TWO: SIX HABITS IDENTIFYING A “SLUGGARD”.

One thought on “Lessons Learned from an “ANT FARM”

  1. Ants at a motivational seminar! They have such a reputation for industriousness that it’s funny to even think of them having to be motivated! Hmmm, interesting that we often have to be “motivated” to develop spiritual lives, read our Bibles, etc. I’ve found that as I come closer to God in these disciplines, I enjoy them more and don’t have to have so much external motivation to engage in relationship with God. Ok, I’ve gone off on my own point, here : ) Good post, Mel!



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