Guest / Limited Access /
Hardworking Sloths: Disguising Spiritual Laziness
iStock

My family used to play "Where's Waldo?" with a three-toed sloth at the zoo; eventually we'd find him suspended like a hammock from a tree branch above us. I used to think he got a bad rap as nature's laziest creature. After all, I don't have the strength to hold myself upside down on a set of monkey bars for 10 seconds. Then a zoo volunteer explained that sloths have curved claws that allow them to dig into branches and hang without effort. Our sloth, it turns out, really was as unmotivated as he looked.

I found myself thinking about that lethargic critter the other day while listening to a recorded Eugene Peterson lecture and arguing with my MP3 player.

Peterson: Pastors are highly susceptible to the sin of sloth.

Me: What are you talking about? Pastors are some of the most overworked people alive.

Peterson: Sloth is most often evidenced in busyness … in frantic running around, trying to be everything to everyone, and then having no time to listen or pray, no time to become the person who is doing these things.

Score one for Peterson.

I'm not a pastor. But I am busy, like almost everyone I know. When Peterson declares that "the pastor's primary responsibility is to keep the community attentive to God," I can readily apply that job description to my roles as wife, mother, musician, and author. The mandate can be stated even more succinctly regarding my task as a human: Pay attention to God. If I don't, I'm guilty of spiritual sloth, no matter how hard I'm working. In truth, there is an inverse relationship between how overwhelmed I am doing things and how much energy I can give to being attentive.

But did I mention I'm really busy?

Part ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Wrestling with Angels
Carolyn Arends
Singer/songwriter and author Carolyn Arends has written and released 9 albums and penned 2 books, including Wrestling With Angels (Harvest House/Conversantlife.com). A list of her blogs can be found at CarolynArends.com. Her bimonthly "Wrestling With Angels" column has appeared in Christianity Today since 2008.
Previous Wrestling with Angels Columns:
Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only Should the China Ambassador Worship at a House Church?
Observers discuss whether the U.S. ambassador to China should worship at an unregistered church to 'publicly identify with the persecuted.'
RecommendedThe Most Uncomfortable Christmas Verse
Subscriber Access Only
The Most Uncomfortable Christmas Verse
"But women will be saved by childbearing," may not mean what you think it means.
TrendingWhy Do We Have Christmas Trees?
Why Do We Have Christmas Trees?
The history behind evergreens, ornaments, and holiday gift giving.
Editor's PickThe Grace of Church Discipline
The Grace of Church Discipline
We do no one any favors if we ignore or downplay core beliefs.
Christianity Today
Hardworking Sloths: Disguising Spiritual Laziness
hide thisJune June

In the Magazine

June 2011

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.