Our story starts with a youngish monk, relatively new to the rigours of living out poverty, chastity and obedience within the bounds of community religious life.
He was a rather clever chap, quite charming and friendly, and he soon worked out that the juniors received the lion's share of the less appealing chores that had to be done. Some of them he liked doing, but most of them he disliked.
So he came up with what he thought was a brilliant plan to get more time doing the good stuff and less time doing the bad stuff.
If he was sent to the kitchen, he would wash up so slowly, or peel the vegetables so inefficiently, that the monk in charge of the kitchen would get so frustrated that he'd say, 'Here, I'll take over here, you head off to the chapel and pray for me'.
If he was sent to help muck out the cattle stables, he did such a half-hearted job at such a slow pace that the monk in charge of the farm soon begged the prior that someone else be sent to help instead.
If the monk in charge of keeping the accounts was a very punctual person, our young monk would aim to always arrive a little late and every so often put a 6 instead of a 9, or an 8 instead of a 3 in the ledgers.
At those chores he liked to do, he would coast along, and give them the bare minimum of effort. There would be just enough unconscious flashes of brilliance to irritate those who suspected he could do much better if he wanted to.
Everything was going wonderfully, our young monk had extra free time and less of the chores he disliked.
But something happened over time.
When opportunities for greater responsibility came up, they started to be given to other monks who hadn't been a religious as long as he had.
When the abbot went on official visits and would take a junior monk as an aide with him, our monk didn't get selected.
Worst of all, when tasks came up that were ideally suited to his talents, he wasn't even considered for them.
He was becoming an increasingly embittered monk who was perplexed that his superiors didn't seem to know how talented he was, and what a great leader he would make, and didn't seem to take him seriously.
Tragically he was unable to see that he had built up a bad reputation for himself that would be quite difficult to rectify.
And the moral/s to the story?
Always do your best, no matter how menial or distasteful the task is.
If you catch someone being a 'bad monk', strive to hold your frustrations in check, and for their own good and for the good of the community don't let them get away with it. Deal with any underlying causes, and call them to excellence.