Here are the keys: Remember who God says you are in Him; focus on Who He is in you; and react to your situation not through misguided feelings but through an act of your will – based on confident faith in God and His truth.
The motto of the procrastinator is: “Don’t do today what you can put off until tomorrow.”
For some, it is a minor problem. For others, it poses a real threat to their work and their family. In any form we must begin to see procrastination as a subtle form of bondage which prevents us from maximizing our God-given potential, robbing us of many blessings that we otherwise would enjoy.
In Acts 24 is Luke’s account of Paul’s imprisonment in Rome. Felix, the Roman governor, brings Paul before him and listens to his impassioned preaching.
Frightened,Felix sends Paul away with these words: “Go away for the present, and when I find time, I will summon you” (Acts 24:25).
During the next two years, Felix meets with Paul “often” – in hopes that he will give him money – but does not release him from prison because Paul does not pay him off. Felix then turns him over to his successor (Acts 24:26-27).
This Scripture passage is an excellent setting for dealing with the topic of procrastination. Governor Felix put off a critical decision for salvation that Paul’s preaching had raised. It is the last time Felix is mentioned in the Scriptures and perhaps the last opportunity he had to receive Christ as his Savior.
What is it that causes us to behave with similar delay? Why do we put off so many decisions and tasks – some of which are crucial to our success and growth?
We have all kinds of excuses: “I just didn’t have the time.” “I had too many interruptions.” “I didn’t feel well.” “I had more important things to do.”
They all are weak excuses. We know the trouble lies with us, not our circumstances or surroundings.
There are several seemingly universal causes for the problem of procrastination.
One is what I term “discomfort dodging.” That means we put off actions or decisions because they disturb our comfort zone. To act now would generate feelings of anxiety which conflict with our goal of feeling good about things.
Everybody likes to feel good. If we can procrastinate on certain issues or decisions that have the potential for generating discomfort, why bother?
We routinely practice “discomfort dodging” by consistently putting whatever action – if bothersome – on the bottom of our list. If there is nothing else on the list for today, we will find something else to add in order to keep it in our emotional cellar.
We also procrastinate due to self-doubt. We tell ourselves that we are not adequate or sufficient to meet the challenge. And if that is the case, why fail?
Poor self-esteem is linked to the person who procrastinates. A confident person seldom postpones tasks since he has an adequate view of his abilities and talents.
The spiritual fallout from procrastination is very damaging.
One of the most important areas of spiritual life that procrastination influences is our quiet time with the Lord. We resolve again and again to spend time in God’s Word, but we somehow manage to find yet one more reason we should wait until tomorrow.
Our prayer life is hampered tremendously. We have multitudes of requests and needs, but we cannot find the time or the right circumstance to bring them to God in prayer. The result is a withered prayer life that is put into gear only in times of emergency.
Many Christians put off witnessing/evangelizing. They never seemingly “get around to it.” Their delay is in spite of God’s command to do so (Matt. 28:19-20; 2 Tim. 4:5; Phil. 1:27b).
We wait for just the right time and place to share Christ, putting off the opportunity we have today.
In each instance we can trace our procrastination to discomfort and self-doubt.
We may rationalize that finding time to study the Word interferes with our sleep and our recreation. Praying regularly involves the uneasiness of repentance, of self-searching under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Failure to share our faith stems from our insecurity and feelings of inadequacy.
Can you see how procrastination stunts our spiritual growth? Do you understand how it affects our relationship with the Father?
Procrastination costs the advancement of God’s kingdom on earth. It hinders the work of the Gospel through His chosen instruments – you and me.
For the believer, the consequences of procrastination are immense. So many things are left undone; so many tasks are never achieved.
There is an ongoing sense of mediocrity; the spirit of excellence is nonexistent. We live suspended between the much that we want to accomplish and the little we actually do complete. Frustration is rampant; our ambitions lie unfulfilled.
Every time we procrastinate, we disobey God. We do not like to think of it in that blunt manner, but it is the truth. If God impresses us to share the gospel with a person today and we decide to postpone it until tomorrow, we have disobeyed God.
The tasks or opportunities God places in our paths each day are not there by accident. His timing is always perfect, and when we fail to take advantage of them, we resist the good and perfect will of our Heavenly Father.
I believe we hinder God’s program when we procrastinate. We do not thwart His ultimate purposes – for He will accomplish them – but we hinder their immediate fulfillment where we are concerned.
We are vessels which the Lord has chosen to work through. Our procrastination keeps us on the shelf of indifference and apathy when God wants to use us to pour out His love and help in the marketplace.
Our procrastination can even be a stumbling block to others. They see our unnecessary delays and resulting negligence and wonder what kind of God we serve.
There is also a keen sense of guilt involved in procrastination. When we know God has required us to do something and we continue to put it off, we are bound to feel guilty. The stress level increases; the pressure builds.
All of this combines to wear us down spiritually. There is not the prevailing peace of God in our lives. Excitement and enthusiasm concerning our faith are not evident.
Why do we continue to put off decisions and tasks in the light of such consequences? We do not want to face ourselves. We do not want to confess our inadequacy. We do not want to experience the kind of positive change that comes from obedience.
I want to ask you this question: Are you willing to deal with your procrastination? None of us is adequate for the Christian life. Our adequacy and sufficiency come from the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit Who enables us to do all things through Christ (Phil. 4:13).
So we cannot use our inadequacies as an excuse. God makes us adequate. He provides for all of our needs (Phil. 4:19). He empowers us, enables us, equips us for the tough decisions and assignments (2 Pet. 1:3).
How can we deal with our procrastination?
First, we must admit we have a problem. Nothing will change until we confront the fact that we have a problem. It is not someone else’s fault. We cannot blame our lack of time.
We must deliberately confess: “I have a very definite problem with procrastination. I need God’s help.
Once we admit our problem, we have to identify the particular areas where procrastination affects us.
Be specific and then identify the feelings that accompany your procrastination: “Do I not fellowship with others because I don’t want to take any additional risks in a new relationship?” Do I fail to commune with the Father because I feel unworthy of His friendship?”
It is important to understand how we feel when we procrastinate. There is almost always an underlying reason.
Once we admit our problem and identify our feelings and specific trouble spots, we need to change our thinking, renew our minds (Rom. 12:2), and do right away what we should do, our responsibilities.
Then set your focus on the majesty and presence of Christ in your life.
Whatever our particular area of procrastination, Christ in us – “the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27) – is greater. Christ in me is sufficient to meet every challenge, every opportunity, every obstacle, every demanding relationship.
We “can do all things through (Christ) who strengthens (us)” (Phil. 4:13). We begin to function based on who we are in Christ. He is our Savior, our Lord, and our Life.
No matter what we face, God makes us adequate (2 Cor. 3:5). Our anxieties, fears, doubts, and worries are dispelled by the power of Christ Who saved us and Who promised to complete what He began in us (Phil. 1:6).
We must make a decision: Will we continue to procrastinate and operate from our feelings, or will we count on the sufficiency of Christ (2 Cor. 5:7)?
If we operate on the basis of what God says is true (e.g., we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit – 1 Cor. 6:19; 3:16; the resurrection power of Jesus Christ is within us for every demand – 2 Cor. 4:7; 12:9; Eph. 3:16, 20; Col. 1:11; 2 Tim. 1:7), then we can experience the joy and satisfaction that prompt obedience brings.
If we live by faith, procrastination will cease. If we keep yielding to our feelings, we will continue to procrastinate.
Here again are the keys: Remember who God says you are in Him; focus on Who He is in you; and react to your situation not through misguided feelings but through an act of your will – based on confident faith in God and His truth.
The decision not to procrastinate any longer can revolutionize your life. It can maximize your potential. It can bring God’s blessings in abundance.
Do it now!