The lazy people are the first to show off their imaginary efforts. “Don’t I work extremely hard?” they say. “No one pays attention to my hard work. People are so ungrateful to me.” That’s what lazy people say instead of just working. That’s how they confuse others. What can we say to those people? How can we motivate them to work harder?
Saint Stephen, bishop of Perm, is said to have been incredibly talented and diligent since his early childhood. When he was an adolescent, he would read aloud in the cathedral, copy church books by hand and study them thoroughly. He read all the Old and New Testament. When he became a monk, he began interpreting those books, too. He copied quite a few manuscripts. Later, Stephen was made a deacon, and soon enough a presbyter. He learned Permian to be able to talk with the pagans and invented its writing system. He translated church books into that language and copied them by hand. Beside that, he also learned Greek. He converted many pagans in Perm to Christ. He would spend days and nights on end talking with them, without eating or drinking anything at all, according to his biography. Later, he traveled the entire Perm land to convert more pagans to Christ. He founded numerous churches in several towns and villages. Later, when he became the bishop of Perm, he continued to enlighten the locals with the Christian doctrine and baptize them. He founded even more churches and appointed priests. He established several monasteries. He gave alms to the poor and the destitute. His biography reads, “He did a lot to further human salvation; he led the Permyak people to the faith and baptized them… He left his flock to cry for his death a lot…” That was what the life of this holy hierarch was like!
Therefore, that is the example that we can use, o ye lazy ones, to lock your mouths and to motivate you to work harder. We can refer you to this God-pleasing man who spend days and nights without eating or drinking, as you’ve heard; who worked and toiled to exhaustion and tears. That was how all God’s saints worked. Did they ever ask, “Didn’t I work hard enough?”
No, they didn’t; they worked and prayed to God with tears, as we read in this saint’s biography, and they did it all the time. Therefore, forgo your complaints; your work is nothing compared to the work of the saints and so you shouldn’t even mention it. Compel yourselves to do God’s work and follow the saints’ example. Refrain from talking evil; be humble, patient, and diligent to achieve the Kingdom of Heaven where the saints abide. Amen.
Translated by The Catalog of Good Deeds