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Pause for Thought: Look at the Ants

Wise as ants!

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To consider ants and what makes them a source of wisdom.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need the Bible passage Proverbs 6.6-8, which is available at:

    You may wish to arrange for a student to read this passage.

  • Optional: you may wish to display the words and phrases identified in the ‘Assembly’, Step 8, in which case you will also need the means to do so. The words are ‘hardworking’, ‘strong’, ‘self-motivated’, ‘good at planning and organizing’, ‘team-workers’ and ‘persistent’.


  1. Point out that the students have probably heard the expression ‘having ants in your pants’.

    Identify that it means that someone is fidgety or restless.

  2. Explain the metaphor.

    - Ants are very small insects that can bite and make our skin tickle when they run over us.
    - When we observe ants, they always seem to be scurrying about. They don’t stop to rest.

  3. Point out that the Bible, which is a book that many people believe is full of wisdom, advises us to take careful notice of ants. In the Book of Proverbs, it says, ‘If you want to be wise, go and look at the ant.’

  4. Ask the students to think about why we might be encouraged to regard ants as a good example. You may wish them to discuss this for one minute in small groups.

  5. Identify that ants are tiny creatures that appear to have little strength, but they always seem busy.

    Point out that we rarely see just one ant on its own; ants are usually found with other ants.

  6. Read, or ask a student to read, the passage from Proverbs 6.6-8.

    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.

  7. Explain that the word ‘sluggard’ isn’t one that we use very often nowadays; it refers to someone who is lazy.

  8. Make the following points about ants.

    - Ants are very hardworking; they are never lazy. As a result, ants never go hungry.
    - Ants are strong. They can lift 20 times their own body weight. That’s like a seven-year-old picking up a car!
    - Ants are self-motivated. They don’t need a boss standing over them, telling them what to do. They don’t complain about how small they are and how big the task is.
    - Ants are good at planning and organizing. They know that they must plan ahead. They are wise enough to know that there will be times and seasons when it will be difficult to go out looking for food or building ant cities, so they store up food and share it out when it is needed.
    - Ants are team-workers who work for the common good. Ants know that they can accomplish more by working together than by working alone. They set goals and work together to achieve them.
    Every ant has a particular role, a function. Some tend to the eggs, while others make sure that the queen is fed and taken care of. Some build the nest, while others search for food and store it for the entire nest. Some are soldiers who protect the nest.
    - Ants are persistent; they keep going. If an ant mound is knocked down, the ants will come together and rebuild it. They don’t give up.

Time for reflection

Explain that you are going to read out the key characteristics of ants. Ask the students to listen and consider how each characteristic relates to them. Ask them to consider whether there are one or two areas where they excel or where they need more practice. Which areas would they like to work on?

- Ants are hardworking.
Pause to allow time for thought.

- Ants are strong.
Pause to allow time for thought.

- Ants are self-motivated.
Pause to allow time for thought.

- Ants are good at planning and organizing.
Pause to allow time for thought.

- Ants are good team-workers.
Pause to allow time for thought.

- Ants are persistent.
Pause to allow time for thought.

Publication date: June 2021   (Vol.23 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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