by Annette Bridges. © 2006. All rights reserved.

Ants, fire ants in particular, are no friend to farmers and ranchers. My husband would most certainly concur! Each year he faces what feels like a losing battle trying to smooth our pastures due to the ever-increasing number of ant mounds. So somehow it feels a bit like an oxymoron to suggest that ants, one of the smallest and most annoying of God’s creatures, know very well the key to being successful. Perhaps this, too, is why they seem impossible to get rid of!

Consider this lesson about the ant that we read of in the Bible: “You lazy fool, look at an ant. Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two. Nobody has to tell it what to do. All summer it stores up food; at harvest it stockpiles provisions. So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing?” (Proverbs 6:6-9, The Message Bible)

Maybe you desire to be more productive in your work. Or perhaps you’re a new graduate poised to begin your career? Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, bored or afraid to take the necessary steps?

Many times in my life I’ve struggled with a lack of motivation to complete a project. Sometimes I’ve lacked the motivation to begin a long-needed project! Then there are other times when I have felt so overwhelmed and stretched by the demands upon me, that I reached what felt like my limit of endurance and my breaking point. Believe it or not, pondering the life and works of “the ant” has given me fresh inspiration time and again and has helped me overcome difficult times in my life.

Ants seem to know their purpose in life very well and appear to keep it in the forefront of their thought as they keep moving. They don’t allow anything to interfere with their progress. Obstacles in their path do not stop them. They refuse to give up. Clearly, they are examples of courage, expectancy and determination.

Once a task is complete, they go immediately to the next job at hand. Ants appear to approach each undertaking with zest, energy, enthusiasm. Persistence may be their greatest characteristic. I suspect ants would never consider defeat. They face unexpected tasks with confidence and resolve. I have no doubt they will not stop until their goal is reached.

Ants don’t work or live alone. They understand the concept of teamwork. They seem to believe that their own success requires others around them to be successful, too. Therefore, any ant is ever ready to help a fellow ant to progress. They are always ready to lend aid and offer support as needed.

They seem to be able to carry objects that weigh enough to crush them, and yet they appear to carry their heavy loads effortlessly. Perhaps the old adage about the joy in your steps making everything lighter is something the ant puts into practice.

Mary Baker Eddy was not speaking about ants, but her words in an article titled “Fidelity” seem quite fitting: “The conscientious are successful. They follow faithfully; through evil or through good report, they work on to the achievement of good; by patience, they inherit the promise. Be active, and however slow, thy success is sure: toil is triumph; and — thou hast been faithful over a few things.”

This reminds me of the parable Christ Jesus told about three servants and the talents given them. Two servants did well and increased their talents, but one allowed his fears to persuade him to hide his talent. It was only the two servants who were conscientious with what was given them that earned the tribute: “Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things. … ” (Matthew 24:23)

I’ve concluded that it’s emulating the many qualities that an ant exemplifies — such as diligence, patience, perseverance and persistence — that helps me climb over those pesky hills called boredom, fear or frustration, and prove that conscientious effort results in success. Perhaps you, too, can find inspiration and encouragement for your endeavors from the life of the ant!