Comic Corner


Of Men and Ants

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Authored by Tina Kapp

I’m an avid fan of the TV show Come Dine with Me, where four random strangers (usually amateur chefs) host dinner parties for one another. They vote on the quality of the food and general ambience and hospitality, and the winner gets to take a plateful of money.

The genius behind the show is not just the cooking, which is great fun to watch, but also the glimpse you get into these people’s personalities (and the witty narrator’s commentary). You see how each one handles spending an evening with three new people and dealing with the stress of putting out a well-presented three-course dinner, participating in conversation, and just generally getting along.

I love how if you lined up the four participants and judged them by their outward appearance, you’d often be wrong about who you might click with or whose company you’d most enjoy. Sometimes those coming from wealthier backgrounds would be the more polite ones and they would have better table manners (which is something rather important to me). Other times, they’d be the critical, self-centered, conversation-hogging bores that you would never want to be stuck with. Sometimes the ones coming from simpler backgrounds would be rude, or they would only like the same junk food that they probably always ate, and they had bad etiquette. Other times they turned out to be some of the nicest, most interesting people in the group. It obviously wasn’t their background or upbringing that decided their character; it was what they did with what they had.

One episode stood out to me for that very reason. One guy, with obviously no dress sense, showed up wearing unmatched clothing. He was a self-admitted struggling artist and had everyone else commenting that they thought he was a bit odd. However, as they spent time getting to know him at the dinner parties, each one ended up saying he was so genuine and caring, passionate about his work, and honestly interested in other people. At the end of that episode, they all admitted to really enjoying his company.

At the same party was a millionaire’s son. His opening line to the camera was that his dream was to have a fancy car and never work a day of his life. He pretty much had been doing just that by spending his dad’s money, living in a house that his dad bought for him, and having nothing of his own to show for it. You could see his personality in his dealings with the other people over the course of the dinners. He boasted constantly, criticized everyone else, and seemed to be as emotionally deep as a mud puddle. It was obvious he didn’t score any lasting friends from his time there.

It’s not that his money is what made others dislike him; I think it was his view on life that did it for him. People who want everything handed to them, or who live their lives based on excuses and settle for the path of least resistance definitely miss out on the richness that hard work, focus, determination, and having long-term goals can give you. This attitude can affect those with and without money, although being financially unstable is often the impetus you need to get up and focus on reaching needed goals. If I was in a position to give either of these two men a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity by investing in them, I’d definitely choose the one with drive and passion rather than the guy who dressed well but would rather sit around all day in a ball of laziness.

I’ve gone through stages where I’ve wanted to do as little as possible to get by, where as long as I didn’t get in trouble, I was quite happy doing any combination of my favorite time-wasting activities. It was only after I saw some of my peers and friends making serious progress on the things they wanted to learn through hard work, practice, and study that I realized if I didn’t do something with my life as well, I would be left behind. Looking back on wasted time is never a pretty sight.

One of the verses my teachers frequently quoted to inspire us not to be lazy was, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.”1

This is no scientific research, but from my own observations, I found it interesting that many developing countries don’t have cold or harsh winters. I wondered if the fact that they could always find some food year-round made it less important for the people to develop better food storage, housing, and trade. In countries with winters in which most crops die during those few months, the people had to develop methods to survive by planning ahead, building, inventing, and preserving what they had. Much like the ant, having a plan and goal for the future is a sure way to get you off your butt and take that step to get what you want out of life.

My hubby, who has had to hire and fire lots of people in his line of business, always tells me that it’s easy to find people with degrees and the right paperwork, but the people you hire are the ones who show that extra drive, the ones that have that sparkle in their eyes, the ones who you know are going to outdo the competition and put in whatever is needed to get the job done. They aren’t looking to put in the minimum and call it a day; they want to constantly improve, progress, and learn from the best.

In my own work with dancers, I find the ones that I want to work with are those who take their job seriously, who put in the extra time practicing until they get it right, and who take a genuine interest in the culture and art they’re performing.

When you have an overseer, teacher, or boss directly overseeing you, it’s easier to get your work done, as you know they’ll catch you if you slack off. The challenge comes when you have no one overseeing you, and you need to push yourself. Maybe you have to take that extra bit of time for your homework even though you could be relaxing or going out with friends. One day you just might start your own business or find yourself in a situation where you have to perform and remain on the cutting edge or be left behind. Then you’ll see just how important that personal drive and focus becomes, as without it you’ll be distracted into oblivion.

Sometimes it’s good to take stock of how you’re doing. If you were to attend a dinner party with three strangers, what would their impressions be of you?

1 Proverbs 6:6–8

Read by Stephen Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2014 by The Family International

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