"If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done."
- Ecclesiastes 11:4 NLT
The dictionary defines procrastination as, "to delay or put off something until a later date, especially intentionally or habitually." I used to think that procrastination was just a harmless annoying habit, but I've discovered through studying the Scriptures that it can be a highly destructive way of life. In fact, Proverbs 18:9 (NIV) says, "One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys." The above verse from Ecclesiastes warns us that if we wait for "perfect conditions" to perform our tasks, we'll never accomplish anything. Did you ever notice that when you keep putting off something you dread doing, it looms larger and larger in front of you? That's because when we procrastinate, we allow feelings of dread to control us. Over time, the sense that we're losing control can grow increasingly stronger and overwhelm us. If we let it, procrastination can actually become a form of bondage, and paralyze us. It can steal our joy and peace, and lead to anxiety and depression. It can rob us of our dignity and our self-esteem. When we put off a task or obligation, we don't improve our situation. We usually make it worse. Procrastination never simplifies our lives, even though it may appear that way sometimes, but it actually complicates our lives and increases our stress level. No matter what's at the root of our procrastination - fear, feelings of inadequacy, or laziness - the fruit of it is always rotten.
When I'm faced with a task I'm really dreading, I try to focus on how good I'm going to feel after it's done, rather than on the task itself. Often that helps me to get started, and getting started is usually the hardest part. That's why it's so important to ask the Lord to help us take that first step. If we remember that God has given us a Spirit of discipline (2 Timothy 1:7 NASB), and that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23 NASB), we'll be better equipped to resist the enemy's attempts to make us believe that we're incapable of following through. Proverbs 3:27-28 (NIV) says, "Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, 'Come back later; I'll give it tomorrow' - when you now have it with you." God doesn't want us putting off doing good to others. When His Spirit prompts us to call someone, send them a card, or visit them, we need to be quick to respond. Our timely response can make a world of difference in someone else's life.
While procrastination robs us of blessings, God promises us great rewards for practicing diligence. The Bible says that diligent hands "bring wealth" and "will rule". (Proverbs 10:4 NIV; 12:24 NIV) And Proverbs 13:4 (NIV) says, "The desires of the diligent are fully satisfied." Often when we pray and ask the Lord for the desires of our hearts, He will expect us to play a part in the process. Whether the work involved is challenging and exciting, or mundane and monotonous, if we approach our tasks with a conscientious attitude, we will find great reward and satisfaction as a result. Proverbs 12:27 (NIV) says, "The diligent man prizes his possessions." When we put care and effort into maintaining the things God has blessed us with - our homes, cars, etc. - we show God and others that we are truly thankful for them. It's this kind of attitude that delights the heart of God, and opens the door to even greater rewards. From now on, think of procrastinating as putting off your blessings, and resist it with the Holy Spirit power that abides in you. Then go ahead and take that first step toward the victory and success that God has in store for you!
Prayer: Lord, show me how to overcome procrastination, laziness, and passivity. Help me to practice diligence, and to tackle my obligations and tasks with vigor. Remind me that time is a precious resource that You have given us, and teach me to make the most of it. Thank You that my diligence will bring me heavenly and earthly rewards!
- J. M. Farro