Imam Sufyaan had a sound belief in the principle that one has to both trust Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aalaa) and so what is physically necessary to achieve one’s goals. Earning a livelihood is no different; one cannot sit in the masjib 24 hours a day, seven days a week and say, “Allaah will provide for me.” One who does that does not understand the meaning of At-Tawakkul – to have complete trust in Allaah.
Nor should one work all the time for worldly gain and forget the reality that it is Allaah Who provides. The latter is the perennial mistake of worldly people; the former is the perennial mistake of those who are of an ascetic bent.
The principle that one has to work in order to achieve one’s goal is particularly applicable to a student of knowledge. To seek out knowledge properly, one has to dedicate most of one’s time to one’s studies; a student of knowledge has precious little time to work. He must therefore use his spare time effectively and work just enough to get by; such is the life of the seeker of knowledge, but it is a sweet life as long as one seeks knowledge sincerely and earn’s one livelihood instead of being dependent on others. Dependence upon others, Imam Sufyaan understood, breeds poor characteristics and can potentially lead to evil.
[Taken from: ‘The Biography of Sufyaan Ath-Thawree [may Allaah have mercy on him] Compiled by: Salaahud-Deen ibn ‘Alee ibn ‘Abdul-Maujood’]