A reader at answers.com asked this question:
"What does a sloth do?"
Here's how another reader responded:
"Sloths don't do much: they eat, sleep, walk (very slowly) and eventually find mates. They then reproduce and have babies..."
Not far from the truth! A sloth is one of the world's slowest creatures, moving at a rate of about 6 feet per minute at top speed! They sleep more than they're awake, and consequently have very slow metabolisms. Sloths rarely climb down from their trees. They eat, sleep. and give birth from one spot, reportedly leaving the tree only to relieve themselves occasionally. If it's raining, they'll even "go potty" from midair in the tree!
This sounds too much like a human sloth. When we allow it, we raise these in our own homes. Are you training up a sloth? Watch out for these warning signs:
1. They only work under pressure. "The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute." (Prov. 12:24) These are the types that heard what you said the first time and know what needs to be done, but they wait until there is a risk of punishment or loss of fun. Slothfulness is chased away by threats, but this is too much work for the parent and not enough for the child.
2. They won't finish what they've started. "The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious." (Prov. 12:27) This child will start working, but finishing is too much work. If your child has a string of unfinished projects, or a habit of quitting in the middle of things, you may have a sloth in training.
3. They often complain about anything that requires an effort. "The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain." (Prov. 15:19) "Make the bed again? But why? I'm just going to sleep in it again tonight... " If your child whines about small tasks and you cave in, you are contributing to the delinquency of a slothful minor.
4. They look for ways to get out of working. "He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster." (Prov. 18:9) Is it time to eat? They're all there. Yard work? They disappear. If your child dodges work like it's a lethal bullet, a lot of your time will be spent doing what the sloth should be doing for himself.
5. They want rewards without labor. "The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labor." (Prov. 21:25) Dad has the "Hip National Bank" and Mom has the "Purse ATM." Both are supposed to provide instant cash, anytime day or night. If your child expects you to buy things that they could work to on their own, you are financing slothfulness. If you keep this up, expect to provide long-term financial assistance later in life as well. Faulty philosophy of a sloth: "What's mine is mine, and what's yours is mine."
6. They make excuses for not working. "The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets." (Prov. 22:13) The excuses can be anything from "I forgot that the book report was due" to "I put my homework on top of the van and it blew away!" If your child has more excuses than completed assignments, this is slothfulness wrapped in negligence.
7. They love the bed too much. "As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed." (Prov. 26:14) Staying up late is often part of this problem, but it shouldn't be rewarded with unlimited sleep-ins. If your child routinely sleeps past 10:00am, you may have a sloth in training (or your child may need to get to bed earlier).
Here's a homemade verse: "Train up a sloth in the way he wants to go, and when he is old, he won't move a muscle." Are you training up a sloth? Yelling won't fix this problem. Make some changes to your training, and you'll change the outcome. Slothfulness is a breakable habit. Break it early.
"Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord..." (Rom. 12:11)