I have a confession.
For a long time I had the wrong attitude toward being “laid back.” I thought being laid back was a virtue, something to be commended, something to brag about.
Being laid back is a virtue in our society along with other virtues like being “nice” and “tolerant.”
I don’t want to come off as anti-laid-back–but I do want to strip away a faulty assumption that can dwell behind the use of the term.
People often contrast being laid back to being rigid or tense — and in my estimation, that is a good use of the term. We don’t want people to be overly rigid or tense. Sometimes being a chill person is needed!
But in thinking deeper about what many people (including myself at times) have meant with the term laid back, I have come to a stunning realization:
Being laid back can hold you back.
We get into trouble is when the term “laid back” becomes synonymous with other terms that are not to be celebrated; terms that often promote attitudes we should avoid.
3 Potential Dangers of Being “Laid Back”
One of those behaviors is being passive. Instead of living proactively–taking the bull by the horns, working hard in life and relationships–we let life come to us. In doing that, we let opportunities to lead, learn, and influence pass by.
If you’re an introvert like me, maybe you can relate to this temptation. It can be easier for me to crawl into my comfortable shell and not venture out to love and influence others. God desires for us to be rich in good works. Most of the time those good works aren’t going to show up at our doorstep and complete themselves. Never be content with your passivity.
Laziness is another faulty ‘virtue’ I associated with being laid back. My high-school self wanted to get as much as I could for myself with the smallest amount of effort possible. I valued hard work with my lips, but not my actions. My conception of being laid back extended itself to kicking back, putting my feet up, and relaxing.
Relaxing is not all bad–God did indeed give us the gift (and command) to rest. The reason that God gave us the gift of rest and relaxation was to take a break from hard work, not avoid or neglect it. Avoiding hard work can often drain us of passion for the important things in life. Don’t let that happen!
Passivity and laziness tie closely to another false view of being laid back: selfishness. Instead of caring about others more than I cared about myself, I foolishly believed that serving myself over everyone and everything else was OK. Being laid back meant not worrying about things that I perhaps should have worried about, or at least cared about, like honoring God and looking out for the well-being of others.
God does not want passive, lazy, and selfish followers. Instead, He calls us to active lives filled with hard work, self-denial, and a love for Him and others.
There are a few things we can (and should) be laid back about, but there are many other great virtues we should pursue. We are to lead with zeal. We are to love the truth. We are to make the most of time, because the days are evil. We are to live lives of love looking out for the good of others.
Don’t let being laid back hold you back!