Proverbs 18:9 Even he who is slack in his employment is a brother of a master of destruction. (Author’s Translation)
I can’t tell if I translated the passage above based solely on a desire to be literal or because “master of destruction” simply sounds better than the less literal, “him who destroys (ESV).”
Anyhow, the book of Proverbs, at its heart is about the good life. And central to the good life in the Bible is work. Many people see work as a punishment, but this is not so. Work is the task of humanity from the beginning (take dominion…tend the garden, etc).
Today we are apt to face distractions. These distractions can keep us from fulfillment in terms of skill level, relationship quality, spiritual growth, and employment.
The proverb above reminds me of Cal Newport’s concept, of deep work, which is work “for extended periods with full concentration on a single task free from distraction.”
To work in a fashion designed to produce the most efficient and highest quality results leads to the good life.
Now, let’s look at the rest of the proverb at hand. One who is slack (by doing less than required) is cheating those to whom the work is owed. You may as well destroy their property. On the other hand, one who does not do their best, while meeting the expectations of the job should still feel the force of this proverb. Why? Because while not being literally like the one who destroys as in the previous case, such a person is still missing out on their potential for blessedness (Proverbs 3:13), which is the lot of those who destroy rather than create and tend.
So, find a way to do deep work, or be the brother of the master of destruction.